Road noise outside your window, such as roaring engines, blaring horns, and wailing sirens, might be harming your blood pressure. A recent study published on March 22 in JACC: Advances discovered that high blood pressure (hypertension) risk increases due to road traffic noise, independent of air pollution’s effects.
The researchers, led by Jing Huang from Peking University in Beijing, were surprised by the strong link between road noise and hypertension even after accounting for air pollution.
To investigate this connection, Huang and her team analyzed data from over 240,000 UK Biobank participants aged 40 to 69 without high blood pressure at the beginning of the study. They used residential addresses and a European noise assessment tool to estimate road traffic noise exposure. Over about eight years, the researchers found that the risk of developing high blood pressure increased for participants living near road traffic noise, and the risk rose as noise levels grew. This remained true even after accounting for fine particles and nitrogen dioxide exposure in the air.
People with high exposure to both traffic noise and air pollution faced the highest risk of high blood pressure. Huang emphasized the importance of understanding the individual effects of road traffic noise rather than only considering the overall environment. The study’s findings support public health measures to reduce the negative impact of road traffic noise, which may include stricter noise guidelines, improved road conditions and urban design, and investment in quieter vehicle technology.
Dr. Jiandong Zhang, a cardiology fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, noted that this study is the first large-scale prospective research directly examining the impact of road traffic noise on newly-diagnosed hypertension. He believes the data provides stronger evidence for modifying road traffic noise and air pollution to improve cardiovascular health at both individual and societal levels. Researchers are now conducting field studies to better comprehend how road noise influences blood pressure.
Key Takeaways in a Nutshell – Health Newstrack
– Road traffic noise, such as engines, horns, and sirens, can increase the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension), independent of air pollution’s effects.
– People with high exposure to both traffic noise and air pollution faced the highest risk of high blood pressure.
– This study is the first large-scale prospective research directly examining the impact of road traffic noise on newly-diagnosed hypertension, providing stronger evidence for modifying road traffic noise and air pollution to improve cardiovascular health.