Airplane noise tied to high blood pressure

Society Materials 18 November 2007 04:32 (UTC +04:00)

People who live near airports may have an elevated risk of high blood pressure due to noise pollution, a Swedish study suggests.

Dr Mats Rosenlund of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and associates found that among more than 2,000 men followed for a decade, those who lived in areas with the greatest noise from a nearby airport had a higher risk of developing high blood pressure.

It's possible that the constant noise of planes buzzing overhead is a source of chronic stress for some of these individuals, which in turn may raise their blood pressure, explained Rosenlund.

"It is thought that aircraft noise causes stress problems when it interferes with people's ability to think, relax or sleep, for example," Rosenlund told Reuters Health.

A wide range of factors are known to affect heart health, and it's not yet clear that airplane noise is directly responsible for the higher blood pressure seen in this study, according to Rosenlund. But, he noted, this study, along with past research, shows there is an association between noise exposure and high blood pressure.

The study involved 2,027 men from four municipalities surrounding the Stockholm Arlanda airport who were free of high blood pressure at the study's outset. Their aircraft-noise exposure was estimated using government air traffic data, and the researchers tracked any new diagnoses of high blood pressure over the next 10 years.

In general, the 20 per cent of men exposed to the highest average levels of airplane noise were 19 per cent more likely to develop high blood pressure than their counterparts with lower-level noise exposure, the researchers report in the medical journal Epidemiology.

Other factors they considered - such as the men's age, weight, income and exercise habits - did not change the link between aircraft noise and blood pressure.

Still, Rosenlund said, it's too early to say "with confidence" that living near an airport raises a person's risk of high blood pressure. ( Gulf )