After studying some 8.6 million people living in London in the United Kingdom between 2003 and 2010, British researchers established a relationship between very noisy traffic and cardiovascular problems.
According to the researchers, people who live in areas where traffic noise exceeds 60 decibels (dB) are 4% more likely to die than people who live in quieter areas.
Noise aggravates hypertension, as well as sleep problems or stress that are known risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Adults who are near very noisy roads during the day are also 5% more likely to be hospitalized for these conditions, although in older people the risk increases by 9%.
On the other hand, at night, in noisy areas, only 5% of the elderly have a greater risk of suffering from these conditions.
According to Dr. Jaan Halonen of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who coordinated the work, this study is the first to establish a relationship between noise and these diseases in the UK.
Their result "adds to the growing amount of data suggesting that a reduction in noise generated by traffic could benefit our health," he adds.
In London, more than 1.6 million people live in areas where noise exceeds 55 dB during the day.
Researchers acknowledge, however, that in addition to noise, factors such as obesity, sedentary lifestyle, hypertension and diabetes play a role in cardiovascular disease.
"This study does not show that noise causes cardiovascular disease, but it is consistent with others that show that it increases hypertension and may also contribute to its development," says Dr. Tim Chico, a cardiology consultant at the University of Sheffield , which recalls that the risk is "much lower" than that associated with tobacco, obesity and sedentary lifestyle.