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Noise and Hearts

January 5, 2006

A new study shows that even a little noise could have a big effect on heart health.


The perils of a loud lifestyle. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Exposure to constant noise – even mild street traffic – may jack up your risk of a heart attack. This according to Stefan Willich and his colleagues at the Charité University Medical Centre in Berlin, Germany. They found that a noisy home environment increased heart attack risk by 50 percent in men, and tripled the risk in women. It didn’t matter if the noise actually bothered the patients – only that it was above 60 decibels.

STEFAN WILLICH (Charité University Medical Centre, Germany):
In the environment, that would be a street with rather quiet traffic – you know, a few vehicles per minute, not a very busy road.

In addition, workplace noise increased heart attack risk for men, but not for women. He says it’s not clear if the gender differences are environmental or biological.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.