- Exposure to noise is known to trigger sleep disturbances and increase irritability.
- Long term exposure to aircraft noise, increases the risk of developing high blood pressure and heart diseases like palpitation and arrhythmia, according to new findings.
- The risk is found to be much greater if exposure occurs during night time.
The risk of developing high blood pressure, heart flutter and stroke is increased by long term exposure to aircraft noise.
The risk is particularly greater when the exposure happens during the night.
Blood pressure is the lateral pressure exerted by the blood on the walls of the arteries.
High blood pressure occurs when the long-term force of the blood against the walls of the arteries is high enough to cause health problems, such as heart disease.
Uncontrolled blood pressure increases the risk of heart condition.
It can cause the hardening and thickening of arteries, known as atherosclerosis and lead to heart attack and stroke.
For the study, data was obtained from 420 people living near Athens International Airport in Greece, where approximately 600 flights take off and land every day. This group of participants were one among the six groups of people living near six large European airports who had taken part in the HYENA study in 2013.
This study assessed the potential health impacts of aircraft noise in 2004-2006.
The noise occurring between 0700 and 2300 hours was categorized as daytime aircraft noise and that occurring between 2300 and 0700 hours was defined as night-time aircraft noise.
For the study, the aircraft and road traffic noise exposure levels estimated for the postcodes of the participants, ranging from less than 50 to more than 60 decibels, were used.
According to the findings, the exposure rates observed, were as follows:
- About half of the participants, under 49%, were exposed to more than 55 dB of daytime aircraft noise
- Around 1 in 4, just over 27%, was exposed to more than 45 dB of night-time aircraft noise
- Around 1 in 10, at 11%, was exposed to significant road traffic noise of more than 55 dB
Consequence of Noise Exposure
The findings showed that 71 people were diagnosed with new cases of high blood pressure, 44 were diagnosed with heart flutter (cardiac arrhythmia). 18 people had a heart attack between 2004-2006 and 2013.
Exposure to aircraft noise, particularly at night, was associated with:
- All cases of high blood pressure
- New cases of high blood pressure
- Doubling in risk of heart flutter diagnosed by a doctor
For every additional 10 dB of night-time aircraft noise, there was a 69% increased risk of high blood pressure.
Though the exposure also increased the risk of stroke, the findings were not statistically significant..
The study showed a weaker and less consistent association between road traffic noise and ill health.
More studies are needed to draw definitive conclusions on the cause-effect connection between aircraft noise exposure and high blood pressure risk.
Limitations of the study include the relatively small number of participants, and the potential effects of air pollution that were not accounted for.
But there is growing evidence that exposure to noise is linked to ill health, according to experts.
The findings are published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.
- High blood pressure (Hypertension) - (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/basics/definition/con-20019580)
- Klea Katsouyanni et al. Is aircraft noise exposure associated with cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Occupational & Environmental Medicine; (2017) doi 10.1136/oemed-2016-104180