Can Environmental Noise Lead to CVD?

Noise may disrupt the body on the cellular level in a way that increases the risk of common cardiovascular disease risk factors, according to a review topic published Feb. 5 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The review examines the underlying mechanisms that may lead to noise-induced cardiovascular disease, and is in response to growing evidence connecting environmental noise, including from road traffic and aircrafts, to the development of coronary artery disease, arterial hypertension, stroke and heart failure.

A number of studies have shown that traffic noise may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, but questions still remain about the precise mechanisms that lead to noise-induced cardiovascular disease. In the review paper, Thomas Munzel, MD, et al., look at novel translational noise studies demonstrating the molecular mechanisms that may lead to impaired vascular function, recent epidemiologic evidence of noise-induced cardiovascular disease, and the non-auditory effects of noise and their impact on the cardiovascular system. Specific topics looked at were the adverse effects of environmental noise on the autonomic nervous system and consequences for the cardiovascular system, adverse cardiovascular effects of noise in humans and adverse cardiovascular effects of noise in animals.

The authors said that based on the evidence, they propose that noise induces a stress response, characterized by activation of the sympathetic nervous system and increased levels of hormones, which will initiate sequelae and ultimately lead to vascular damage. They explain that their evidence further strengthens the concept that transportation noise contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes because noise is associated with oxidative stress, vascular dysfunction, autonomic imbalance and metabolic abnormalities.

The authors also looked at some of the mitigation strategies used around the world and said strategies like traffic management and regulation, the development of low-noise tires could help reduce noise, and air traffic curfews help reduce hazardous noise, but that moving forward other strategies are needed.

"As the percentage of the population exposed to detrimental levels of transportation noise are rising, new developments and legislation to reduce noise are important for public health," Munzel concludes.

Keywords: Noise, Transportation, Coronary Artery Disease, Public Health, Risk Factors, Hypertension, Heart Failure, Stroke, Diabetes Mellitus, Aircraft, Sympathetic Nervous System, Autonomic Nervous System, Cardiovascular System, Oxidative Stress

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