Sound of revving engines and screeching tyres really IS enough to raise your blood pressure, study reveals
- Living next to a busy road can lead to hypertension and heart attacks
- Scientists say the more traffic there is, the greater risk of high blood pressure
The sound of revving engines and screeching tyres while loud music blares would be enough to raise anyone’s blood pressure.
Now, scientists have discovered that living next to a busy road can in fact lead to hypertension – and the more traffic there is, the greater the risk.
Those who live next to noisy roads with high levels of pollution were most susceptible to the condition, which can lead to heart attack, stroke and heart failure.
Experts said the findings should act as a warning to public health policy to encourage stricter noise guidelines and the drive for quieter cars.
People who live next to noisy roads with high levels of pollution were most susceptible to getting hypertension, which can lead to heart attack, stroke and heart failure
Researchers analysed data from more than 240,000 people in the UK, aged 40 to 69 years, who did not have high blood pressure at the start of the study.
They estimated road traffic noise based on residential address and the Common Noise Assessment Method, which takes into account road traffic, railway traffic, aircraft and industrial noise.
Eight years later, they assessed people again to see if they had developed high blood pressure then analysed how this related to noise where they lived.
Not only did they find that people living near road traffic noise were more likely to develop hypertension, they also found that risk increased in tandem with the noise ‘dose.’
These associations held true even when researchers adjusted for exposure to fine particles and nitrogen dioxide, according to the findings published in JACC: Advances.
However, people who had high exposure to both traffic noise and air pollution had the highest hypertension risk, showing that air pollution plays a role as well.
Professor Jing Huang, of Peking University in Beijing, China, who led the study said: ‘We were a little surprised that the association between road traffic noise and hypertension was robust even after adjustment for air pollution.
‘Road traffic noise and traffic-related air pollution coexist around us. So it is essential to explore the independent effects of road traffic noise, rather than the total environment.’
Around one in three UK adults has high blood pressure, which is responsible for more than half of all strokes and heart attacks.
Often symptomless, around half of those suffering with it are undiagnosed, putting them at greater risk of health problems.
Previous studies had shown a connection between noisy road traffic and increased risk of hypertension but this is the first to specifically address the effect of road traffic noise on the incidence of newly-diagnosed high blood pressure, the research team said.
The researchers suggest noise reduction plans – such as improving road conditions and urban design and investing advanced technology on quieter vehicles – could help to reduce the health burden from cardiovascular disease.
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