Transportation noise exposure correlated with heart attacks

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

In research to be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 71st Scientific Session, from April 2-4, 2022, researchers from Rutgers University found that transportation noise exposure may account for 5% of heart attacks in New Jersey.

Transportation noise includes road traffic noise, railroad noise, and aircraft noise. Of these, aircraft noise seems to have the most deleterious effects on cardiovascular health.

The study’s findings are not new–they confirm other studies done largely in Europe–but as the study’s lead author, Dr. Abel Moreyra, notes:

As cardiologists, we are used to thinking about many traditional risk factors such as smoking, hypertension or diabetes. This study and others suggest maybe we should start thinking about air pollution and noise pollution as additional risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

The European research has already shown that transportation noise causes cardiovascular disease, with the causal mechanisms understood down to the cellular, subcellular, molecular, and genetic levels.

The New Jersey study is preliminary. It did not adjust the data for other variables such as socioeconomic factors and other cardiovascular risk factors, e.g., smoking, but those analyses are planned.

Most cardiologists, most physicians, and certainly most members of the public, including elected officials, don’t know that noise has non-auditory health effects, even though this is not new information.

We hope Dr. Moreyra’s presentation gets lots of media coverage, and that more people will become aware of the non-auditory dangers of too much noise.

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