WEDNESDAY, Oct. 9 (HealthDay News) -- People who put up with the
constant roar of aircraft overhead may be at higher risk for heart
disease, two new studies suggest.
In one study, British researchers compared rates of stroke and
heart disease among 3.6 million people who lived near London's
sprawling Heathrow airport, one of the busiest transit hubs in the
The results showed that these people were at heightened risk for
death and hospitalization from heart issues. The risk was highest
among the 2 percent of the study population exposed to the highest
daytime and night-time levels of aircraft noise, the team said.
In the second study, researchers analyzed data from more than 6
million people aged 65 and older who lived near 89 U.S. airports
during 2009. On average, people who lived in zip codes with 10
decibel higher levels of aircraft noise had a 3.5 percent higher
rate of hospitalization for heart disease.
As in the British study, the association between hospitalization
for cardiovascular disease and aircraft noise was strongest among
people exposed to the highest levels of aircraft noise, say
researchers led by Dr. Francesa Dominici of the Harvard School of
Heart experts weren't surprised by the findings.
"Despite the thought that perhaps aircraft noise might [only] be
a cause of sleep disturbances -- of being disruptive or a mere
irritation -- these studies are showing the real health threat of
airport noise," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive
cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
"Certainly this information should become an important issue
when deciding where to live, or in city planning for the future,"
Dr. Sripal Bangalore, a cardiologist at NYU Langone Medical
Center in New York City, said the new research "adds to growing
literature on environmental-related risk factors for cardiovascular
"One is left to wonder whether aircraft technicians, maintenance
personnel and ground crews who are not only at risk of job-related
hearing loss, are also at high risk of cardiovascular disease,"
said Bangalore, who is also assistant professor in department of
medicine at NYU.
The authors of the British study said that cities like London
are under enormous pressure to meet the demands of the airline
industry. "However, policy decisions need to take account of
potential health- related concerns, including possible effects of
environmental noise on cardiovascular health," wrote a team led by
Paul Elliott of Imperial College London.
Both studies were published online Oct. 8 in the journal
BMJ.com. While the studies showed an association between
chronic exposure to aircraft noise and heart trouble, they were
observational in nature and could not prove a cause-and-effect
The U.S. National Institutes of Health outlines what you can do
reduce heart risks.