Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of mortality in Europe and worldwide. There is increasing evidence that environmental noise may increase the risks of cardiovascular diseases and hypertension.
Researchers from the Imperial College London examined the association between noise and ‘heart disease and stroke’ for residents exposed to varying levels of aircraft noise and road traffic noise around major airports across Europe.
In this new study researchers used data from the Hypertension and Environmental Noise near Airports (HYENA) study. The HYENA study collected data between 2004 and 2006 on 4,861 adults (2404 men, 2457 women) aged 45-70 years who had lived at least five years near seven European airports: London’s Heathrow, Amsterdam’s Schiphol, Stockholm’s Arlanda and Bromma, Milan’s Malpensa, Berlin’s Tegel and Athens’ Elephtherios Venizelos.
Each participant was visited at home by staff that took clinical measurements and asked participants were asked to report whether they had ever received a diagnosis from a doctor of a list of nine chronic diseases (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, angina pectoris, cardiac arrhythmia, myocardial infarction, stroke, diabetes, asthma, chronic bronchitis/emphysema and ‘other’ health problems) and to provide the year of first diagnosis for each condition by a medical practitioner, hospital or medical center.
For road traffic researchers used data collected between 2004 and 2006 on 4712 participants (276 cases), who lived near airports in six European countries (UK, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Greece, Italy).
The results showed a significant link between exposure to night-time aircraft noise and ‘heart disease and stroke’ in people who had lived in the same home for 20 years or more, and this association was robust to adjustment for exposure to NO2 air pollution in a sub-sample.
An association was also found between exposure to 24 hour road traffic noise and heart disease and stroke, but a sub-sample analysis suggested that this was confounded by exposure to NO2 air pollution.
The association between night-time average aircraft noise and ‘heart disease and stroke’ was found for participants who had lived in the same place for 20 years or more.
For every 10 decibels of aircraft noise they are exposed to on an average night, the risk of developing either heart disease or stroke increases by25%.
The researchers concluded “Exposure to aircraft noise over many years may increase risks of heart disease and stroke, although more studies are needed to establish how much the risks associated with road traffic noise may be explained by air pollution.”
This study appears in the journal Environmental Health.