The sound of engines running and screeching tires really IS enough to raise your blood pressure, research shows
- Living next to a busy road can lead to hypertension and heart attacks
- Scientists say that the more traffic there is, the greater the risk of high blood pressure
The sound of engines revving and tires screeching while loud music blares would be enough to raise one’s blood pressure.
Now scientists have discovered that living next to a busy road can indeed lead to hypertension – and the more traffic there is, the greater the risk.
Those living next to noisy, high-pollution roads were most susceptible to the condition, which can lead to heart attack, stroke and heart failure.
Experts said the findings should serve as a public health policy warning to encourage stricter noise guidelines and a push for quieter cars.
People living next to noisy roads with a lot of pollution were most prone to hypertension, which can lead to heart attack, stroke and heart failure
Researchers analyzed data from more than 240,000 people in the UK, aged 40 to 69, who did not have high blood pressure at the start of the study.
They estimate road traffic noise based on residential address and the Common Noise Assessment Method, which takes into account road traffic, rail traffic, aircraft and industrial noise.
Eight years later, they reassessed people to see if they had developed high blood pressure and then analyzed how this related to noise in the neighborhood where they lived.
Not only did they find that people who lived near road traffic noise were more likely to develop hypertension, they also found that the risk increased with the ‘dose’ of noise.
These associations held true even when researchers adjusted for exposure to fine particles and nitrogen dioxide, according to the findings published in JACC: Advances.
However, people who had high exposure to both traffic noise and air pollution had the highest risk of hypertension, showing that air pollution also plays a role.
Professor Jing Huang, from Peking University in Beijing, China, who led the study, said: ‘We were a little surprised that the association between road traffic noise and hypertension was robust, even after adjusting for air pollution.
“Traffic noise and traffic-related air pollution coexist around us. It is therefore essential to investigate the independent effects of road traffic noise, rather than the total environment.’
About one in three adults in the UK has high blood pressure, which is responsible for more than half of all strokes and heart attacks.
Often symptomless, about half of those who suffer from it are undiagnosed, putting them at greater risk for health problems.
Previous studies had shown a link between noisy road traffic and an increased risk of hypertension, but this is the first to specifically look at the effect of road traffic noise on the incidence of newly diagnosed high blood pressure, the research team said.
The researchers suggest that noise reduction plans — such as improving road conditions and urban design and investing advanced technology in quieter vehicles — could help reduce the health burden of cardiovascular disease.