Traffic noise boosts stroke risk
Can traffic noise be deadly? Well, not quite. But a new study indicates that chronic exposure to noise from cars and trucks can boost the risk for stroke, especially among the elderly.
Mette Sørensen, senior researcher at the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues studied 51,485 people in the Copenhagen and Aarhus areas between 1993 and 1997. For every 10 decibels of noise, the stroke risk increased by 4 percent, they found.
But when the Danish researchers parsed the data more closely, they found that there was no statistically significant increased risk of stroke for people younger than 65. But the risk increased by 27 percent for every 10 decibels higher road traffic noise in those age 65 years and older. They also found that the risk increased even more at 60 decibels and above.
The researchers took other factors into consideration that could confuse the findings, such as exposure to air pollution from exhaust and other related noise.
The researchers, who published the data in the European Heart Journal, said the study was the first to show a link between traffic noise and an increased risk for stroke. But they said additional studies are needed to confirm the link.
The study did not examine how noise might increase the risk of stroke. But the researchers speculate that stress from noise disturbs sleep, which results in increased blood pressure and heart rate, as well as increased level of stress hormones.
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