Extended exposure to airport noise may increase risk of stroke, heart flutter

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Living near an airport may make for a quick commute when getting out of town, but that convenience may come at a cost. New research suggests such an environment, with long-term exposure to aircraft noise throughout the day, may increase risk of hypertension, heart flutter and stroke.

A team, led by Klea Katsouyanni, of the University of Athens, published its findings June 12 in BMJ’s Occupational & Environmental Medicine. Researchers studied people living in close proximity to Athens International Airport. Roughly half were exposed to daytime aircraft noise louder than 55 decibels, while 27 percent were exposed to more than 45 decibels of nighttime noise.

Researchers concluded every additional 10 decibels of nighttime aircraft noise resulted in a 69 percent heightened risk of hypertension. Nighttime aircraft noise also doubled the risk of heart flutter when considering previous and new diagnoses.

The team also found an increased risk of stroke, but it was not statistically relevant. The links between such health risks and aircraft noise were much stronger than those of road traffic.

The researchers noted the study featured a relatively small sample size, but noted the findings were part of a growing body of evidence that links noise exposure and negative health consequences.