People are often bothered by loud noises, especially if those noises reach a certain decibel or are of a certain pitch. However, we tend to think of noise as simply annoying and do not generally consider it a danger. The results of a new study out of Rutgers Medical School that were presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 71th Annual Scientific Session call into question whether annoying noise really is benign.
Investigators evaluated data from New Jersey’s MIDAS database, which includes information on cardiovascular hospitalizations, and found that 5% of the heart attacks that New Jerseyans suffered in 2018 were attributable to noise. When the researchers and physicians compared the heart attack rate in areas with high transportation noise versus that in quieter places, they found that the heart attack rate was 72% higher in the noisier locations.
To do this comparison, the scientists divided patients up based on the decibels of noise occurring over the course of the day in the locations where the heart attacks occurred. Areas with a daily average of at least 65 decibels were classified as the noisy areas, whereas those whose average was below 50 decibels were classified as quiet areas.
While the results demonstrate that heart attacks tended to happen on average more frequently in noisy areas than in quiet areas, the research does not reveal whether the noise could have caused the heart attacks. It also does not dig into the mechanisms by which noise may elevate heart attack risk.
There are several potential hypotheses for the link between what researchers are calling “noise pollution” and cardiovascular events. However, much more research is needed before we can say with certainty what – if any – relationship exists.
Living Near Noise Pollution Tied to Greater Risk of Heart Attack – American College of Cardiology. Accessed March 25, 2022. https://www.acc.org/About-ACC/Press-Releases/2022/03/22/19/59/Living-Near-Noise-Pollution-Tied-to-Greater-Risk-of-Heart-Attack