Have you ever said that traffic noise outside your window was going to be the death of you? Well, you might not have been exaggerating. A study published online today in the European Heart Journal says that exposure to road traffic noise boosts the risks of stroke, particularly in those over 65 years of age.
Danish researchers monitored over 50,000 people for a decade and tracked the traffic noise levels at each person’s home over time. Each individual’s overall health was also tracked, and the study took in to account other factors such as diet, smoking, air pollution and other noise factors such as airplanes.
During the study timeframe, participants suffered 1,661 strokes. After data crunching, 8% of these strokes overall could include traffic noise as a factor. When you focus on an age group, the number of people over 65 who could attribute noise as a factor jumped to 19% – or one in five.
The study does not claim that road noise directly causes strokes. However, the presence of such noise can lead to increased stress levels and poorer quality of sleep, which are both risk factors in overall health.
So while the advice would seem to be to stay away from dwellings on busy streets, it’s unfortunately not that simple. Socioeconomic factors often will drive people on lower incomes to less desireable housing, such as a location facing a busy street. Still, with this knowledge, it may be possible for the elderly to take precautions – such as investing in a good set of earplugs to guarantee a good night’s sleep.
By Shyaulis Andrjus [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons