A new study from the Danish Cancer Society in Denmark found that people are more likely to suffer from heart attacks if there is a lot of traffic near their homes. The researchers evaluated over 50,000 people over the course of a decade. They studied the traffic noise around their homes. Researchers found that the chances of receiving a heart attack increased by 12% with every 10 decibels of noise from a nearby road.
There is also a clear correlation between roadway noise and air pollution in the given vicinity. Researchers have previously attributed traffic activity and the likelihood of developing heart attacks to higher air pollution. However, the new study shows there may be other variables that could be playing a major role.
The study was led by Matt Sorenson of the DCS. Sorenson said that roadside noise increases stress levels, which place people at a higher risk of developing a heart attack. The noise can be especially problematic in the evenings, because it can drastically disturb sleep patterns. After factoring out air pollution as a contributing factor, the likelihood of developing a heart attack was still substantially higher for people living near major highways. Sorenson and his team estimate that nearly 4% of all heart attacks are caused by traffic noise.
[box type="note"]If these findings are confirmed by followup studies, citizens will have a better idea of how to reduce the likelihood of having a heart attack. For example, they can sleep and live in areas of their houses that are shielded from noise. Also, government officials could find ways to pave their roads that would minimize the amount of noise people were exposed to.[/box]
Sorenson said that many people may have no idea that the roadside noise they are being exposed to could be creating health risks for them. His team hopes this study will educate them on the risks and give them some perspective on what they need to do to minimize their risks of developing a heart attack.