Airport Noise linked to high blood pressure

 Emobileclinic Researchers’ corner

The risk of developing high blood pressure and possibly heart attach has been attributed to flight noise which affects people living under airplane’s routes according to a new research from the University Medical College in Krakow, Poland. The study assessed the effects of airport noise on blood pressure as well as organ damage.

More than 200 adults, aged between 40 and 66, who had lived for more than three years in an area with high or low aircraft noise, were assessed. Of these, half were exposed to more than 60 decibels (dB) of aircraft noise, the equivalent to conversation levels in a restaurant. The remaining participants were exposed to less than 55 dB and acted as a control group. The researchers matched the groups in pairs by gender, age, and amount of time living in the area.

Asymptomatic organ damage (where there are no symptoms) was assessed by measuring stiffness of the aorta, the main artery to the heart as well as the mass and function of the left side of the heart, the left ventricle. They found four in ten of those who lived in an area of high aircraft noise had higher blood pressure, compared to less than a quarter of those who lived in a low aircraft noise area.

Many of those who lived near high aircraft noise also had some enlargement to the left side of the heart – responsible for pumping blood around the body – another sign of high blood pressure. Marta Rojek, of Jagiellonian University Medical College in Krakow and lead author of the study, said there was increasing evidence living near to an airport can increase the risk of high blood pressure, particularly at night.

Many who live on a busy flight path had damage done  to the structure of their hearts, the researchers said. She said it has been linked to hospitalisation for cardiovascular diseases – but more evidence is needed. “Our results suggest living near an airport for three years or more is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure and hypertension,” she said. “These changes may then lead to damage of the aorta and heart which could increase the risk of having a heart attack.”

Figures from the International Civil Aviation Organisation show there were 64 million take-offs and landings in 2013.This figure is set to double in the next 20 years. “European Union regulations say countries must assess and manage environmental noise, and there are national laws on aircraft noise,” she said.“Poland stipulates a maximum of 55 dB around schools and hospitals and 60 dB for other areas. “Noise can be kept below those levels by using only noise-certified aircraft, redirecting flight paths, keeping airports away from homes, and avoiding night flights.” These she suggested were vital to people’s health and  thus laws are to be enforced.


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