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Traffic noise leads to increased heart diseases
Traffic noise pollution has increased massively across Germany in the past decades. Health is also endangered by the growing traffic noise. A current meta-analysis comes to the conclusion that the frequency of ischemic heart diseases increases significantly due to traffic noise.
Cars, trucks, trams, trains, airplanes - all modes of transport generate a certain amount of noise and, as traffic grows, so does the noise pollution. The latter in turn has a significant impact on human health. This is how an international team of researchers came to the conclusion in a current study that the exposure to noise increases the risk of ischemic heart diseases, reports the German Society for Cardiology (DGK). The study was presented at the European Cardiology Congress (ESC) in Barcelona.
New guidelines from the WHO in preparation
In its current meta-study, the international team of researchers from the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain evaluated the studies available so far on the subject of traffic noise and heart health. In preparation for an update of the "Environmental Noise Guideline" of the WHO Regional Office for Europe "a systematic analysis of the available evidence on cardiological and metabolic effects of noise pollution was carried out", reports the DGK. The previous guideline had already been adopted in 1999 and only took scientific literature into account until 1995. Since then, however, there have been numerous new insights into the health effects of long-term noise pollution.
Rising relative disease risk
In total, the scientists evaluated 61 publications that have been published since 2000 and whose data enable risk analysis, reports the DGK. In general, the available studies are of high quality, even if experimental work is missing. The most robust data is available for road traffic noise, but less so for exposure to train or aircraft noise. The analysis of all data (7,451 cases of ischemic heart disease) showed that the relative risk of disease increased by 1.08 per 10 decibels increase in traffic noise pollution. "The concept of relative risk assumes that if the value is 1, the risk is equally distributed in both groups" and "a value greater than 1 is an indication of a possible connection between a risk factor and an illness," explains the DGK .
Effects of noise on the release of stress hormones
The meta-analysis of longitudinal studies on the connection between road traffic noise and (ischemic) heart diseases caused by vasoconstriction shows that their frequency increases statistically significantly with the extent of noise pollution, according to the DGK report. "Given the effects of noise on the release of stress hormones and the quality of sleep, a causal relationship between traffic noise and ischemic heart disease seems plausible," the study authors quote from the specialist society.
Consequences of noise pollution
The effects of environmental influences such as noise or air pollution on cardiovascular health are increasingly in the focus of scientific research and also employ organizations like the WHO, the European Society for Cardiology ESC or the DGK. In previous surveys, the WHO had already estimated that one million healthy years of life are lost through noise in Western Europe each year, reports the DGK. "On the way to cardiovascular diseases alone, noise causes the loss of 61,000 healthy years of life every year," says Prof. Dr. Thomas Münzel from the University Medical Center in Mainz in the current release.
Noise kills through direct and indirect effects
According to the DGK, the Noise Effects Research group at the University Medical Center in Mainz headed by Prof. Münzel “was able to demonstrate, in an experimental model, the relationship between noise pollution and endothelial dysfunction, ie the inner wall of blood vessels.” This endothelial dysfunction is considered an important cause of serious cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke. “According to a model published in 2014, noise kills through both direct and indirect effects. What they have in common is that they cause stress reactions in the organism, ”says Professor Münzel. (fp)