Traffic noise linked to high blood pressure, says study
Beijing (China), March 25: Living near a busy road with the constant sound of roaring engines, honking horns, and wailing sirens may raise your blood pressure. A new study published in the journal JACC: Advances confirmed this.
"We were a little surprised that the association between road traffic noise and hypertension was robust even after adjustment for air pollution," Jing Huang, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at Peking University in Beijing, China said.
Earlier research on the subject was cross-sectional, which means they found a link between traffic noise and hypertension but did not establish a causal relationship. Researchers conducted a prospective study using UK Biobank data to examine health outcomes over time for the new paper.
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Researchers examined data from over 240,000 patients (aged 40 to 69 years) who did not have hypertension at the start. They calculated the noise from road traffic using home addresses and the Common Noise Assessment Technique, a European modelling tool.
They looked at how many persons developed hypertension over a median of 8.1 years of follow-up data. They discovered that those living near road traffic noise were not only more likely to develop hypertension but that the risk rose in tandem with the noise "dose."
These associations remained even after researchers controlled for fine particle and nitrogen dioxide exposure. Those who were exposed to both traffic noise and air pollution had the highest risk of hypertension, indicating that air pollution also plays a role.
"Road traffic noise and traffic-related air pollution coexist around us," Huang added. "It is essential to explore the independent effects of road traffic noise, rather than the total environment."
According to the researchers, the findings can help public health efforts because they indicate that exposure to road traffic noise is harmful to our blood pressure. As a societal effort, policymakers can reduce the negative effects of road traffic noise by establishing stricter noise rules and enforcing them, improving road conditions and urban planning, and investing in advanced technology in quieter vehicles.
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