Study Links Traffic Noise and Heart Attack Risk

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(COPENHAGEN, Denmark) -- Researchers in Denmark are reporting traffic noise may raise the risk of a heart attack.

The researchers found that people who lived with higher levels of traffic noise around their homes had a higher risk. For every 10-decibel increase of noise, the risk of a first heart attack went up by 12 percent.

Although previous studies have found some association between traffic noise and heart health, Dr. Mette Sorensen, the study's lead author, said she was surprised that this study showed such a specific relationship between noise levels and increased heart attack risk.

"Previously, there seemed to be no effect up to around 60 decibels," she said. "But I see increases at around 40 decibels up to the highest level, around 82 decibels. It doesn't seem to be a level where there are no effects."

The scientists studied more than 50,000 50- to 64-year-olds in two of Denmark's largest cities, Copenhagen and Aarhus, keeping track of many aspects of their health, including everywhere they lived for a 10-year period. Based on the locations of their homes and an analysis of traffic patterns, Sorensen and her team calculated how much noise each person had been exposed to. Of the people in the study, 1,600 had their first heart attack during the decade of the research.

The study was published Wednesday in the journal PLoS One.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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