Two Studies Find Aircraft Noise is Associated with Cardiovascular Disease

aircraft_noise_linked_shortened_life_spanA couple of studies have revealed an association between aircraft noise and increased rates for cardiovascular disease, which is raising issues for people living near airports.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) conducted one study, FoxNews wrote. That study found that elderly United States residents on Medicare who were exposed to the most airplane noise were likelier to require hospitalization for cardiac disease, according to

“There’ve been a number of studies that have looked at how aircraft noise can affect things like blood pressure or stress or sleep deprivation, and all these things can influence cardiovascular health,” co-author Jonathan Levy, a professor of environmental health at BUSPH and adjunct professor of environmental health at HSPH, told “So we were interested (in) if we saw an association with cardiovascular hospitalization,” he noted.

Levy and senior author, Francesca Dominici, professor of biostatics and associate dean of information technology at HSPH, looked at data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) involving aircraft noise from 89 U.S. airports and collected data on cardiovascular-related hospitalization rates for 6 million people on Medicare who live close to these airports, according to FoxNews. An association was seen between aircraft noise exposure and cardiovascular disease hospital admissions, even when controlling for major risk factors. Residents living in areas in which higher aircraft noise occurred—10 decibels higher than average—experienced a 3.5 percent greater hospital admission rate for cardiovascular disease, according to FoxNews. “There was some evidence that it was even more significant where the noise exposure was above 55 decibels,” Levy told FoxNews.

The second research revealed increased stroke and heart disease rates tied to people who lived near London’s Heathrow Airport, considered the busiest travel hub in Europe, according to and was conducted by researchers from the Imperial College of London. That research found an increased risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease in the 3.6 million residents who live near London’s Heathrow airport. The British study looked 12 London boroughs and nine districts west of London and used 2001 Civil Aviation Authority aircraft noise models and hospital admissions data from 2001 to 2005; major resident risk factors were considered. About 2 percent lived in the area with the highest level of noise—63 decibels during the day and more than 55 decibels at night, which the National Institutes of Health (NIH) classifies as within the range of laughter or normal conversation. People living in the 63-decibel-plus areas experienced a 24 percent increased likelihood of requiring hospitalization for stroke and a 14 percent increased likelihood of hospitalization for cardiovascular disease. The U.K. Small Area Health Statistics Unit conducted the British study.

The research, says Stephen Stansfeld—a psychiatry professor at Barts and the London School of Medicine, writing in an editorial published with the studies—lends credence to the notion that an airport’s location to residents might impact both their quality of life and their health, according to “The results imply that the siting of airports and consequent exposure to aircraft noise may have direct effects on the health of the surrounding population,” Stansfeld wrote. “Planners need to take this into account when expanding airports in heavily populated areas or planning new airports,” he added, reported.

The British Medical Journal published both papers.

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