Tag Archive: hypertension

Could noise be a risk factor for hypertension?

Photo credit: Kateryna Babaieva from Pexels

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Could noise be a risk factor for hypertension? This fascinating study from Chengdu, China, suggests that the answer is yes. The study design is innovative. The investigators measured bilateral high frequency hearing loss (BHFHL) and blood pressure in 21,000 workers, with an average age of 40. Hearing loss was a proxy measure for occupational noise exposure. Workers with greater hearing loss, as measured by audiometric tests, had a greater risk of also having high blood pressure.

The study is an exploratory one, and it is cross-sectional, i.e., the workers were not followed for decades and the study is based on one-time measurements of hearing and blood pressure. Other factors known to be associated with hypertension, such as weight and alcohol consumption, were not documented. And only a proxy measure of occupational noise exposure, bilateral high frequency hearing loss, was used, rather than actual noise measurements in the workplace. But the number of workers studied was large enough to provide high statistical significance, and the results were striking. As the researchers noted, “subjects having mild and high BHFHL had a higher hypertension risk of 34% and 281%, respectively (both P<0.001). Dose-response relationship between BHFHL and hypertension was found in both males and females.”

Studies done in the U.S. also show a correlation between occupational noise exposure and hypertension. The Chinese study may show a stronger relationship between occupational noise exposure and hypertension because workplace protections and their enforcement may be less stringent in China than in the U.S.

What are the implications of this study for public health? More than 100 million Americans have high blood pressure. At least two studies show that noise exposure in everyday life is great enough to cause hearing loss. Is it also great enough to contribute to the epidemic of hypertension in the U.S.?

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America. Dr Fink also is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council, and he served on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018.

Road traffic noise is linked to diabetes and hypertension

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This report from US News & World Report discusses a Canadian study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, showing that long-term exposure to road traffic noise is linked to diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure).

The research article on which the US News report is based is available online. As the authors note, this is the largest such study done in North America. Other factors, including universal health care in Canada, minimize the risk of selection bias.

And the findings are consistent with animal research and other similar studies done in Europe and elsewhere in Canada. Road traffic noise and aircraft noise are recognized in Europe as health hazards.

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America. Dr Fink also is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council, and he served on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018.

Traffic noise is not a “mere annoyance”:

Harmful road traffic noise affects a quarter of Europeans.  Reuters reports on an the European Environment Agency (EEA) assessment of the impact of noise pollution which concluded that, “[h]armful levels of road traffic noise affect one in four people in Europe and raise health risks ranging from sleepless nights to heart disease.”  The EEA’s report noted that noise pollution is “a major environmental health problem in Europe,” putting “what it called the “European soundscape” under threat. 

Traffic noise was the main source of this damaging noise, according to the assessment, with railways, airports and industrial sites adding to the overall noise burden.  The EEA estimated that “environmental noise caused up to 10,000 premature deaths in Europe every year,” adding that “[m]ore than 900,000 cases of hypertension could be traced to noise.”  In response to these health threats, the EEA report calls for “better planning ranging from preserving quiet areas in cities to less noisy tyres on cars.”

Thanks to Antonella Radicchi for the link.

Think that noise is merely annoying? Think again:

New York City, October 2015, Manhattan

New York City, October 2015, Manhattan

Loud Noises Are Slowly Ruining Your Health.  David Hillier, writing for Vice, examines the effects of noise pollution on health, noting that the World Health Organization (WHO) considers noise pollution “the second biggest environmental cause of health problems in humans after air pollution.”  You’ll note that the WHO says “health problems” and not hearing problems, because noise pollution doesn’t just affect hearing.  As Hillier writes, “[s]tudies from 2012 suggested [noise pollution] contributed to 910,000 additional cases of hypertension across Europe every year and 10,000 premature deaths related to coronary heart diseases or strokes.”  Click the link above for more.

Study links blood pressure risk to road noise

Grace - New York City - ManhattanResearch from five European countries finds traffic noise is associated with an increase in hypertension cases.  The study at issue was fairly robust, tracking “41,000 people in five different countries for up to nine years.”  Long and short, the study found that “people living in noisy streets, where there were average night-time noise levels of 50 decibels, had a 6% increased risk of developing hypertension compared to those living on quieter streets.”  A 6% increased risk is not insignificant, and that statistic highlights an important fact: noise isn’t just a nuisance, it’s a public health threat.

New Yorkers, mark your calendars:

On September 24th the Noise Hackathon is presenting a series of fascinating talks that will look “into the complexities of noise including urban noise pollution and noise music to jump-start a full day of noise hacking.”  One of the talks will be presented by Dr. Arline Bronzaft, one of the leading experts in environmental psychology, who will talk about the impact of noise on health, particularly the  “non-auditory health risks and physiological disorders, including children’s learning skills, hypertension, sleep deprivation, and cardiovascular complications, as well as work productivity and social behavior.”

The September 24th Noise Hackathon is presented as part of NoiseGate Festival 2016, a “5-day music festival focusing on the environment, bringing awareness to spatial and urban noise pollution “in 3D” via Data-Driven, Art-Driven, Community-Driven efforts.”  Admission to the Noise Hackathon is free.  Just click the link to RSVP.