Studies revealed: Traffic noise might cause heart attacks
There are few things worse than being stuck in traffic in the morning however after evaluating information from statutory health insurers on over a million Germans over the age of 40, it is revealed that your risk of heart attack increases by traffic noise.
Andreas Seidler and co-authors in the Deutsches Ärzteblatt International has conducted a study of persons living in the Rhine-Main region and their exposure to road, rail and traffic noise. When they started analysing patients in the group who died of heart attack a statistical assoiciation was found between noise exposure and the risk of heart attack.
One would then draw the conclusion that aircraft noise is the largest contributor to this risk, however, authors believe it poses in fact a lower risk due to the fact that unlike road or rail noise, aircraft noise stays above 65 dB.
Although results show only an association between traffic noise and heart attack, the magnitude of people affected by noise pollution means we should increase our efforts to lower the public’s exposure to traffic noise pollution.
We might not normally give a second thought to how noise affects our bodies but you’d be shocked. Your brain often interprets noise as danger signals which provoke a stress response in our bodies. This response releases hormones which spikes blood pressure and increases your heart rate. Over time these stress responses impacts your cardiovascular system. Even if you’ve learned to somehow tune out the noise, it still has a negative impact on your body.
The World Health Organization classified the negative health effects of noise pollution into seven categories:
- Hearing impairment
- Sleep disturbances
- Impaired task performance
- Negative Social Behaviour and Annoyance Reactions
- Interference with Spoken Communication
- Disturbances in mental health
- Cardiovascular disturbances
It goes without saying that noise pollution does not only occur in traffic but all around us. Thus we need to protect ourselves as much as possible from the negative effects of noise pollution. Here are a few small things you can do that will make a big difference.
Turn off electronics or limit the use of electronics: Even though the appliances and electronics are switched off, they can still make noise. Over time these sounds can cause stress on your ears.
Soundproof your space: Soundproof areas of your home like replacing wooden floors with a carpet for example. Place your washing machine in a separate room with a closed door and even something as mundane as curtains can go a long way in cancelling out some of the noise coming from outside.
Mask noise with more calming sounds: Consider placing a water feature on your desk or hanging wind chimes outside. Although this may sound contradicting, these noises will have a more calming affect on you.
Make use of earplugs: Earplugs are a fantastic way to cancel out noise, especially if you have trouble sleeping at night. However, you might not be as alert to sounds and things going on around you so use it at your discretion.
Just remember that the smallest things can have a negative impact on your health. Take care of yourself.