Researchers from Karolinska University in Sweden have been conducting a multi-year study into the effects of noise on health.
Their findings support a major review of research published in the Lancet last October, which showed that exposure to noise can not only disturb sleep, concentration and academic performance, but can also increase the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
The Karolinska research, which followed over 5,000 people for a ten year period in Stockholm, found an increased risk of hypertension among subjects heavily exposed to road traffic noise at home. The risk was dramatically increased for those heavily exposed to air craft noise.
Their data also suggested a strong connection between exposure to road traffic noise and heart attack (myocardial infarction), as well as a correlation between noise and obesity.
An ancient response
It’s great to see research validating what we’ve been seeing clinically for the last 10 years – that Hypertension is a response to long term exposure to environmental and emotional stressors, such as noise.
Since the early days of mankind, noise has often been a signal that danger may be nearby, and so we are programmed to respond to it automatically as a survival mechanism.
When we are exposed to stressors such as noise, our natural ‘fight or flight’ response is activated. The body is flooded with the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, which prepare us for action. Our breathing pattern changes, muscles tense and pulse rate & blood pressure rises.
The problem is that modern stressors like noise can’t be so easily fought or escaped, which leads to a chronic accumulation of these blood vessel tightening stress hormones.
Noise makes you fat too
The Karolinska research also found that noise increased obesity levels. They noted that each ten-decibel rise in the noise levels a person was exposed to added around 1cm to their waistline.
Ten decibels is the difference between listening to a radio and listening to an alarm clock.
But how does this make people fat? We’ll, the stress hormone, Cortisol, encourages visceral fat storage, which is the type of fat most likely to lead to heart disease.
This increase in fat storage just compounds the hypertension issue, as blood pressure increases proportionately with weight, and research has shown that each 1Kg weight gain can raise blood pressure by 1/1mmHg (adding 1 to both of your blood pressure numbers).
Noise cannot always be easily avoided, so this is where one of our Certified Hypnotension Practitioners can help.
They can work with you to help your subconscious mind ignore or respond differently to the noise pollution in your life so that it is no longer is a source of stress.
They can also teach you strategies to help you lower your overall stress levels so you can “mop up” excess levels of stress hormones created by the hidden stressors in your life.
You might also like to download our free report, which outlines the first 3 steps to lowering your blood pressure.
- Long-Term Aircraft Noise Exposure and Body Mass Index, Waist Circumference, and Type 2 Diabetes, EHP 5th May 2014
- Environmental noise and health, SEPA March 2013
- Auditory and non-auditory effects of noise on health, Lancet October 30, 2013
Image: Paul M. Walsh