Quiet, please: Chronic noise bad for the heart

Quiet, please: Chronic noise bad for the heart

Shhhh! You’ll want to hear this: A life full of chronic noise is bad for your heart.

Living in a noisy environment, such as near an airport or a busy highway, appears to hike the risk of heart attack or stroke. That’s according to preliminary research recently presented to the American Heart Association.

It seems that our brains don’t like to be battered by decibels. Scientists said the noise creates an abnormal stress response in a part of the brain called the amygdala (a-MIG-dah-la). That, in turn, causes inflammation of the arteries, a known risk factor for adverse cardiovascular events.

The study focused on 500 people with an average age of 56, many of whom had their brains and blood vessels scanned. At the start, all the participants were free of cardiovascular disease.

To estimate the participants’ noise exposure, researchers took their home addresses and looked them up in a noise map produced by the federal government that catalogs roadway and airport sound.

After an average of nearly four years, the scientists examined the participants’ medical records. They found those living in the noisiest areas had an increased risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attack and stroke.

What’s more, those living in the noisy environments experienced the greatest stress-related brain activity and arterial inflammation. In fact, the participants with the most stressed-out brains were three times more likely to experience a cardiovascular event. The risk was higher even when taking into account other risk factors such as smoking or diabetes.

So, if you can’t move to a secluded spot in the woods, the next best bet might be a set of earplugs.

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