Noise pollution can affect your heart
Environmental noise exposure can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, but what can you do about it? Recent findings show environmental noise contributes to at least 10,000 premature deaths, due to heart-related issues, in Europe alone. Researchers at the European Society of Cardiology have discovered that noise can impact our cardiovascular risk; from disrupting night-time sleep patterns and raising stress levels to increasing blood pressure and heart rate.
Even if you grow accustomed to the sound of car alarms that wake you up, jack hammers on the way to work or the buzz of an office building, researchers say you're still at risk - because the din may still quietly tax your heart.
"Noise should be considered as a novel cardiovascular risk factor," top cardiologist Dr. Thomas Muenzel, a professor of internal medicine at University Medical Centre of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany said. He insists the people most at risk are those "living close to streets, railways and airports".
Dr. Andrew Freeman, the director of clinical cardiology at National Jewish Sleep Centre in Denver, offers up a few simple fixes: "I think practicing quietness is an important part of what we might consider doing every day."
The experts suggest meditation and yoga is a good way of turning off all the excess noise and allowing the body to de-stress. Dr. Freeman adds, "Excess sound is not only bad for ear health, but it also creates a significant amount of stress, which can significantly worsen cardiovascular outcomes."
Meanwhile, Dr. Robert Beiny, one of Britain's top hearing experts, said, "The latest research linking noise to increased risk of heart attack and stroke is not really surprising. For some considerable time, noise has been identified as a hearing health risk with the prevalence of hearing loss and tinnitus reported by those who have been exposed to noise.
"It comes as no surprise that if noise is a major contributory factor in hearing loss and hearing loss can be associated with these conditions, then these latest studies make a lot of sense."
And his advice for those desperate for a little peace and quiet: "Take breaks from noise wherever possible, going to a quiet zone, letting your ears rest and recover. The use of hearing protection or special acoustically modified earplugs should be used at all times, particularly in situations of social and recreational noise, where the ability to still hear is required."