That traffic or environmental noise could bring about heart diseases may sound strange to many, but several studies have found a strong connection between the two factors, which could be seen as an addendum to the list of traditional risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
Although previous studies have identified a correlation between traffic noise and heart diseases, but they could not establish how the mechanism works. However, the study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, has been able to uncover the mechanisms by which environmental noise may contribute to heart disease.
The study, conducted by researchers from the Department of Internal Medicine at University Medical Centre Mainz of Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany, and reported by Medical Online Today, reviewed the available scientific literature on the topic.
The German scientists assessed recent evidence of the link between heart diseases and environmental noise and reviewed studies that investigated how the non-auditory effects of noise might impact the cardiovascular system.
To arrive at robust findings, they also reviewed studies on the effects of noise on the nervous system and those investigating adverse effects of noise on animals as well as humans.
Their findings pointed at the mechanism at play to be a stress response in the nervous system that is activated by exposure to noise. “The stress response prompts a surge of hormones, which damages the blood vessels”, authors.
They further connected noise with oxidative stress — an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to nullify their effects — and problems with the blood vessels, nervous system, and metabolism.
While the researchers advocated for strategies to lessen traffic noise, they recommended the use of low-noise tyres and air traffic curfews, for positive contributions to environmental noise reduction. However, whether such strategies are implementable in Nigeria is the next question to be answered by Nigerian researchers.
In the words of the Lead author Thomas Münzel, director of the Department of Internal Medicine : “As the percentage of the population exposed to detrimental levels of transportation noise is rising, new developments and legislation to reduce noise are important for public health.”