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Researchers find link between aircraft noise and heart disease

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According to an article published in the British Medical Journal, people who are exposed to high levels of aircraft noise have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies on the link between aircraft noise and its effect on health have been made so far but investigated only the effect on blood pressure; in addition the results of these studies were inconsistent. To analyze in more detail the link between aircraft noise and heart disease, researchers conducted a study that included 3.6 million residents living near London Heathrow. We know that London Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world, therefore the researchers wanted to see the effect of exposure to aircraft noise and the risk of stroke or heart attack in the residents living near this airport.

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To conduct the study, researchers used data from the Civil Aviation Authority ( CAA ) to find the level of aircraft noise and investigated the hospitalization and mortality rates for stroke, cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease in residents of several districts around the airport. The results showed that 2% of the population that were exposed to the highest level of aircraft noise had an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular disease. It should be noted that there were taken into consideration factors such as age, sex, ethnicity, smoking, pollution and road traffic noise.

However, researchers could not distinguish between noise during the night and noise during daytime. Therefore, more studies are needed to clarify whether the risk of cardiovascular events increases due to sleep disruption ( caused by noise at night ). Also, the researchers said that these results need to be tested by other studies to see if indeed the risk increases due to exposure to noise or if there are other factors that contribute to this risk. In another study, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Boston University School of Public Health investigated the link between exposure to aircraft noise and the risk of cardiovascular disease on more than 6 million Americans over age 65.

This was the first study on a large population because the study included individuals who lived near the 89 airports in the U.S. The study showed that people exposed to more than 55 dB, so to the highest noise level, had the strongest association with hospitalization for cardiovascular disease. According to researchers, the results “provide evidence of a statistically significant association between exposure to aircraft noise and cardiovascular health particularly at higher exposure levels.”

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