Report Shows Noise Raises Blood Pressure

Considering living near a busy airport or highway? You may want to give this decision a second thought. In addition to disrupting sleep and contributing to stress, proximity to loud noises has a noticeable effect on our blood pressure.

Airport Studies on Blood Pressure

Many studies have proven this correlation. Most notably, a European study investigated the connection between loud noise and hypertension. Scientists at the Imperial College in London remotely tracked the blood pressure of 140 volunteers who lived in the vicinity of 4 different airports. Their findings determine the influence of nighttime noise from both airports and traffic on individual pressure readings.

Readings were taken at 15-minute intervals and compared to noises recorded in the area where the person was sleeping. Study results appear in the European Heart Journal.

Researchers note that “noise events” reaching 35 decibels or louder caused a noticeable rise in blood pressure. The level of noise is caused by aircraft overhead, noise from passing traffic or even a snoring person nearby. Volunteers experienced a rise in pressure whether they were awakened by the noise or stayed asleep.

A Look Inside The Numbers

Systolic blood pressure increased an average of 6.2mmHg (mercury) at the 35-decibel level. (Systolic measures the high end of pressure produced when the heart pushes blood out of its chambers.) Diastolic pressure measures the blood as the heart is filling its chambers. It also increased by an average of 7.4 mmHg.

It is interesting to note that it was the level of the noise and not the type that caused the rise in blood pressure. Whether it is traffic noise, aircraft noise or another person made no difference. Only the noise level mattered.

Are You At Risk?

Such increases have a negative effect, particularly in someone whose blood pressure is already at dangerously high levels. The World Health Organization defines high blood pressure as 140+ mmHg on the systolic end of the measuring scale. Hypertension contributes to increased risks of developing heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and dementia.

Support Your Health with a Quiet Environment

Food and stress are not the only cause of hypertension. To really keep your health under control, a calm, quiet home and sleep environment are essential.

Source: Imperial College London. “Aircraft Noise Raises Blood Pressure Even Whilst People Are Sleeping, Says Study.” February 2008. http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_13-2-2008-10-14-29

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