Traffic noise can increase stroke risk

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Exposure to loud traffic noise can increase the risk of stroke in people over the age of 65, according to new study results. Danish researchers found that for every 10 decibels that noise went up, the risk of stroke went up 14%.

This study was conducted in urban areas, which might suggest that nursing homes without adequate sound proofing in busy urban or metropolitan areas, could be putting residents at heightened risk. Prior studies have linked traffic noise with increased risk of heart attack and other cardiac conditions, but this is the first that associates noise and stroke, the researchers said. Elderly people might be more at risk due to fragmented sleep patterns that are common in that age group, investigators hypothesized.

"The mechanisms involved are probably the same mechanisms believed to be involved in noise-induced hypertension and heart attacks, namely that noise acts as a stressor and disturbs sleep, which results in increased blood pressure and heart rate, as well as increased level of stress hormones,” said senior researcher, Dr. Mette Sørensen. “Taken together, all of these could increase the risk for cardiovascular diseases."  The study was published in the Jan. 26 issue of European Heart Journal.

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