Aircraft Noise Can Boost Risk Of High Blood Pressure By 80%


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Living under an airport flight path may boost a person's high blood pressure risk by as much as 80%, according to Swedish researchers.

Writing in the December issue of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Dr. Mats Rosenlund of the Department of Environmental Health in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues present their findings after comparing two groups of people living near or far from the Stockholm Arlanda


The researchers compared 266 people aged 19 to 80 who lived near the airport with 2,693 other Stockholm residents. All responded to a questionnaire that assessed a variety of lifestyle habits, such as diet, exercise and smoking, and if they had ever received a diagnosis of high blood pressure from a doctor.

Rosenlund and colleagues report that people exposed to average aircraft noise levels of 55 decibels or higher were 60% more likely to report having been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Those with exposures exceeding 72 decibels were 80% more likely to report a high blood pressure diagnosis.

Overall, 14% of people exposed to less noise had high blood pressure, compared with 20% of those who regularly faced noise levels of 55 decibels or higher. The findings suggest that exposure to loud noise is associated with high blood pressure, which in turn suggests aircraft noise could increase heart disease risk, Rosenlund and colleagues report.

"There is suggestive evidence for an association between prevalence of hypertension and aircraft noise," writes Dr. Sam Pattenden, an environmental epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in an accompanying editorial.

However, the editorialist adds, "a larger and statistically more rigorous study is needed."

SOURCE: Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2001;58:761, 769-773.