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Living Near Heavy Traffic Noise Raises Blood Pressure

photo of midday traffic jam

March 23, 2023 -- Living near a busy road can be bad for your health, and not just because of air pollution.

Traffic noise from horns, engines, and sirens can raise the blood pressure of people who live near it, according to a study from Great Britain published in the journal JACC: Advances.

“Long-term exposure to road traffic noise was associated with increased incidence of primary hypertension, and the effect estimates were stronger in presence of higher air pollution,” researchers reported.

They looked at data on more than 240,000 people 40 to 69 years old who did not have hypertension at the start of the study. The data came from the biomedical database UK Biobank.

Health risks increased for people living near traffic noise, rising with the amount of noise, even when adjusted for the amount of air pollution.

People exposed the most to noise and pollution had the highest risk of developing hypertension.

“We did not detect a threshold of noise above which the risk started to increase. The risk increased with higher levels of noise, starting at the lowest category that was measured in the study,” senior author Kazem Rahimi, professor of cardiovascular medicine and population health at the University of Oxford, told CNN.

“The association was graded: That means the higher the noise level the higher risk of hypertension in the future,” Rahimi said.

Worldwide, 1.28 billion adults are estimated to have high blood pressure, says the World Health Organization. Having high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are the leading causes of death for Americans. Other contributing factors include age, genetics, obesity, diet, and physical activity.


Show Sources

JACC: Advances: “Road Traffic Noise and Incidence of Primary Hypertension: A Prospective Analysis in UK Biobank.”

CNN: “You were right — traffic noise is indeed pushing up your blood pressure.”

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