Thursday, September 10, 2009

Traffic Noise Adds to High Blood Pressure

Do you ever have a feeling that you are gritting your teeth together or tensing up when you are subjected to a constantly noisy environment? I know that I do. Recently I sat in a hotel room writing an article and it was right next to the freeway. Soon, I had a jaw ache and I didn't even realize where it had come from.

Now I do. That's because it's been proven that traffic noise raises blood pressure. And when blood pressure is up, you know that other parts of your body are being stressed at the same time.

Researchers writing in the journal Environmental Health have found that people exposed to high levels of noise from nearby roads are more likely to report suffering from hypertension.

Researchers from Lund University Hospital, Sweden, investigated the association between living close to noisy roads and having raised blood pressure. The main author said, “Road traffic is the most important source of community noise. Non-auditory physical health effects that are biologically plausible in relation to noise exposure include changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of stress hormones. We found that exposure above 60 decibels was associated with high blood pressure among the relatively young and middle-aged, an important risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke”.

Modest exposure effects were generally noted in all age groups at average road noise levels below 60 dB(A). More marked effects were seen at higher exposure levels primarily among relatively young and middle-aged people.


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