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Chronic Noise Exposure Linked to Myocardial Infarction

Women more adversely affected by environmental noise than men

THURSDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- The physiological effects of chronic exposure to noise are associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction (MI), according to the NaRoMI (Noise and Risk of Myocardial Infarction) study published online Nov. 24 in the European Heart Journal.

Stefan N. Willich, M.D., M.P.H., of the Charite University Medical Centre, Berlin, Germany, and colleagues conducted a case-controlled study of 4,115 patients (3,054 men and 1,061 women) who were admitted with confirmed diagnosis of MI to any of Berlin's 32 major hospitals. Using standardized interviews, patients provided information on environmental and work noise annoyance. The authors used traffic noise maps to assess the sound levels of environmental noise and international standards for noise levels were used to determine workplace noise levels.

The odds of MI were 1.47-fold higher in women who reported being annoyed by environmental noise than in women who did not, although there was no link in men and no link to work noise. Overall, the odds of MI were 1.46 times higher in men and 3.36 times higher in women exposed to environmental noise. Work-related noise only affected men (odds ratio, 1.31). The threshold at which risk occurred was approximately 60 decibels and risk did not rise as noise levels rose.

"Noise is a frequent burden of our daily life, particularly in metropolitan areas and at industrial work sites. The present results may provide a basis for gaining further insight into pathophysiological mechanisms associated with noise. The results should also aid in improving preventive strategies particularly for subjects at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease," the authors conclude.

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