Study says noisy environments can hurt your heart

A noisy environment can be a real headache -- but what about a heartache?

A new study released Monday in the Journal of The American College of Cardiology shows that noise pollution like jackhammers, traffic, and loud concerts may have a significant impact on cardiovascular health.Researchers in Germany and Denmark reviewed years of data and former studies and found that people and animals who were exposed to frequent, loud noise had higher rates of heart failure, irregular heart rhythms, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar.The researchers believe that noise pollution causes a surge in stress hormones, which appear to have harmful effects on the arteries in the heart and the rest of the body, reports Dr. Catherine Spaulding to ABC News.

While this new research can't prove that noise causes heart disease, it does provide convincing evidence that noise-based stress is linked to big consequences for our health.Lead author Dr. Thomas Münzel, from the University Medical Center Mainz Center of Cardiology, explained,"What we know is that if you already have pre-existing risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, noise will amplify that risk."Münzel commented, "Though there is no set threshold...we do know that anything above 60 decibels can increase risk for heart disease."Common noises that are around 60 decibels include a conversation in an office, the sound of a dishwasher, or the noise made by an air conditioning unit. A jackhammer is usually around 100 decibels; an airplane on takeoff can be as loud as 120.However, there's no clear consensus on how much noise is considered to be dangerous for the heart.  Also, cautions Münzel, "the risk comes from years and years of exposure, not days."

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