Noise pollution caused one in 20 heart attacks in New Jersey, scientists report

Living in noisy environments can kill you, according to new research from the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School cardiologists and colleagues. The study looked at heart attack rates in New Jersey and attributed one in twenty to "noise from highways, trains and air traffic." From the American College of Cardiology:

Patients were divided into those experiencing high levels of transportation noise (an average of 65 decibels or higher over the course of the day) and those with low noise exposure (a daily average of less than 50 decibels). A noise level of 65 decibels is similar to a loud conversation or laughter. Since noise levels were averaged over the course of the day, Moreyra said that many people may have experienced periods of relative quiet that were interrupted by louder bursts such as trucks, trains or aircraft going by.

Overall results found that 5% of hospitalizations for heart attacks were attributable to elevated high noise levels in the state. The heart attack rate was 72% higher in places with high transportation noise exposure, with these areas seeing 3,336 heart attacks per 100,000 people compared with 1,938 heart attacks per 100,000 people in quieter areas[…]

While the study did not investigate the biological mechanisms behind the association, Moreyra said noise can cause chronic stress, disturbances in sleep and emotional distress such as anxiety and depression, which could impact cardiovascular health. Chronic stress is known to cause hormonal changes linked with inflammation and changes in the blood vessels that are associated with heart disease.

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