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New research links noise pollution to heart disease

Experts are reporting that environmental noise may damage the body on a cellular level, increasing the risk of common heart disease factors. This research supports a growing collection of evidence that links noise pollution to heart disease.

Many studies have established an association between traffic noise and a higher risk of heart disease factors such as coronary artery disease, arterial hypertension, stroke and heart failure. However, the specific underlying mechanisms which lead to noise-induced heart disease remain unidentified.

The research team examined a collection of noise studies which focused on related topics such as which molecular mechanisms impair vascular function, the non-auditory effects of noise and how they can damage the cardiovascular system, and evidence of noise-induced cardiovascular disease.

Based on their collaboration, the researchers theorize that noise induces a physiological reaction which is characterized by activation of the sympathetic nervous system and increased hormone levels. They believe this stress response initiates abnormalities which ultimately cause cardiovascular damage.

The results of this study substantiate the idea that traffic noise leads to the development of heart disease risk factors such as hypertension.

Due to the adverse effects of environmental noise on the health of both humans and animals, the experts also concentrated on mitigation strategies that are currently being used like traffic management and regulation.

The team found that the development of low-noise tires and air traffic curfews could help reduce hazardous noise, but also determined that more strategies are needed.

Lead author Dr. Thomas Munzel said that “as the percentage of the population exposed to detrimental levels of transportation noise are rising, new developments and legislation to reduce noise are important for public health.”

The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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