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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 01/26/2011

Traffic noise boosts stroke risk

By Rob Stein

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.

By Rob Stein  | January 26, 2011; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Aging, Cardiovascular Health, Strokes  
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It's made worse by those idiots among us who DELIBERATELY make their vehicles even louder. Either through modified exhausts or no mufflers altogether.

Examples: Harley-Davidson motorcycles, various sports cars, SUV's, as well as Hondas driven by low-income Asian twentysomethings (we call them "rice rockets").

These are mostly driven by young men with various self-esteem and mental problems who demand to be heard, much like a screaming baby toddler. Although the Harleys tend to be ridden by middle-aged, obese white males who also want to ride loud and stupid.

All of these morons think it's cool to be loud. They have no care or concern for their neighbors or the public. Or even themselves (they'll need hearing aids in 30 years). They just want to make noise and they don't care who they offend.

Posted by: coakl | January 26, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

BUT? Don't forget to also blame the a---wholes who pull up next to you at an intersection with their Megaton Woofers rattling you windows and your brain!

Posted by: lufrank1 | January 26, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

How was "chronic exposure" determined? How (as well as when) were noise levels determined? A little more info on methodology would be beneficial to this reader.

Posted by: notamullethead | January 26, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

CROAKL--sooooo true! How many beats has your heart skipped when a Harley rev-ed up as the traffic light turned green?

I agree with notamullethead, too, that the info about this study is pretty vague. I expected this report to include a word or two about exposure to noise outside versus noise inside (a person might live near a noisy highway but have a quiet house), for example.

Perhaps future studies will also look into a person's acclimation to the noise. As a teen, I babysat for a family on a four-lane road, speed limit 45 mph, and was always amazed at how well my little charge slept. I have to wonder how she might fare if she lived there her entire life.

I DREAM of the day when noise pollution is taken more seriously.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA | January 26, 2011 7:27 PM | Report abuse

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