Road noise linked to THIS medical condition

Safety warning issued for Audi, BMW and Skoda cars in Spain

Safety warning issued for Audi, BMW and Skoda cars in Spain. Credit: Shutterstock Images

A new large-sized study published this week in JACC: Advances found that noisy vehicle engines, blaring horns and wailing sirens can elevate high blood pressure (hypertension) risk, let alone the risks from air pollution.

“We were a little surprised that the association between road traffic noise and hypertension was robust even after adjustment for air pollution,” said lead author Jing Huang, assistant professor in the School of Public Health at Peking University in Beijing, in a journal news release.

Huang and her colleagues analyzed data from more than 240,000 people in the UK Biobank.  They were 40 to 69 years of age and did not have high blood pressure (hypertension) before the study began.

(The UK Biobank is a large long-term biobank study in the United Kingdom which is investigating the respective contributions of genetic predisposition and environmental exposure to the development of disease. It began in 2006.)

Road traffic noise estimates were based on residential addresses and a European noise assessment tool.

Researchers found that participants who lived near road traffic noise were more likely to develop high blood pressure, and that their risk rose as noise increased, using data over a median of about eight years.

“Road traffic noise and traffic-related air pollution coexist around us,” Huang said. “It is essential to explore the independent effects of road traffic noise, rather than the total environment.”

“To date, this is the first large-sized prospective study directly addressing the effect of road traffic noise on the incidence of newly-diagnosed hypertension,” said Dr. Jiandong Zhang, a fellow in cardiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“The data demonstrated in this article provides a higher quality of evidence to justify the potential to modify road traffic noise and air pollution from both individual and societal levels in improving cardiovascular health,” Zhang said in the release.

Researchers are now doing field studies to better understand how road noise affects blood pressure.

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