Traffic Noise Raises Heart Attack Risk

By now loud traffic jams have become ordinary in the United States. Commuters know exactly how horrible it is to spend even 40 minutes in a jam, while those living nearby high traffic areas have developed immunity to the noise. A Danish study comes to show traffic noise is not so harmless. In fact, researchers say traffic noise raises heart attack risk.

Journal PLoS ONE published a study from researchers with the Danish Cancer Society which shows traffic noise puts people at risk from heart attack. For the most part, many people go through traffic noise without even being aware of how high the decibels are. But those living in such areas are really facing a serious issue. Even if they don’t find so disturbing, research shows traffic noise can raise heart attack risk.

The research looked at more than 50,000 people over 50 living in Copenhagen and Aarhus. Within the first 10 years of their exposure to traffic noise, 1,600 had their very fist heart attack. Basically, with every 10 decibels increase in traffic noise, the risk of a person suffering a heart attack increased by 12 percent.

Dr. Mette Sorenson, lead author of the study, explained: “Previously there seemed to be no effect up to around 60 decibels. But I see increases at around 40 decibels up to the highest level, around 82 decibels”. Basically, Sorenson emphasizes “it doesn’t seem to be a level where there are no effects”.

Scientists can’t explain for sure how is traffic noise increasing the heart attack risk, but they believe it’s because it raises stress, hormone levels such as adrenaline and blood pressure. Also traffic noise disturbs sleep patterns and when coupled with car exhaust it becomes obvious people exposed to it on a regular base could really develop health problems.

Although the study was undertaken in Denmark’s largest cities, the findings truly pertain to the United States.  Dr. Chip Lavie, cardiac rehabilitation and prevention medical doctor at New Orleans’ Ochsner Medical Center, told ABC News that in theory psychological stress caused by traffic noise could raise risk for a heart attack. He emphasized that scientists have found there are numerous psychological factors associated to stress that can boost the risk for a heart attack.

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Eli Wads is one of our expert authors in technology and business fields.Currently living in San Marino, Eli has graduated at Southwestern Academy with a Bachelor Degree in business in 2008. Contact him by dropping him an e-mail at

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