The boost in blood pressure was directly related to the loudness of the noise, Jarup's group found. In fact, every 5 decibel increase in airplane noise caused an increase in systolic blood pressure of 0.66 mmHg. The key factor in increasing blood pressure was the level of the noise, not its source, the researchers noted.
One expert believes more studies are needed to see if avoiding noise can benefit cardiovascular health.
"Elevations in systolic and diastolic blood pressure are important modifiable risk factors for heart attack and stroke," said Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a professor of cardiology, at the University of California, Los Angeles.
This study is consistent with earlier studies, which showed that environmental noise can significantly increase systolic and diastolic blood pressure during sleep, Fonarow added.
"Further studies are necessary to determine if avoiding excess noise during sleep will result in better blood pressure control and cardiovascular risk reduction in individuals with hypertension," Fonarow said.
"The study adds to the literature that noxious and stressful exposures have adverse cardiovascular consequences," said Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz, a professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.
How this finding translates into policy is not quite clear, but it appears that the adverse effect of noise can be demonstrated by blood pressure changes, Krumholz said. "What is interesting here is that it occurred during sleep," he added.
"Whether all people are affected similarly and whether this response correlates with a higher risk of heart disease is not clear, but i
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