Living under a flight path may be bad for the heart: study

Sun Oct 10, 2010 7:20pm EDT
 
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Living with airplanes thundering over your head could put your heart at risk, according to a Swiss study.

After studying 4.6 million adults across Switzerland, researchers found that dying from a heart attack was more common among people with increased exposure to aircraft noise.

"The effect was especially evident for people who were exposed to really high levels of noise, and was dependent on how long those people had lived in the noisy place," researcher Matthias Egger of the University of Bern, told Reuters Health.

This isn't the first time that noise has been linked to negative health effects, including cardiovascular risks.

But this study could help determine whether the sound is really exerting the effect, or if it is something else tagging along with the noise, such as air pollution.

"It's been a problem that when you look at road traffic noise there are both high levels of noise and high levels of air pollution," said Egger. "By looking at airports we were in a position to disentangle these effects."

Egger and his colleagues identified 15,532 heart attack deaths among 4.6 million Swiss residents between late 2000 and the end of 2005 using detailed information from an ongoing mortality study called the Swiss National Cohort.

Government records and environmental data helped the team determine the distance of individuals' residences from airports and major roads, as well as relative levels of particulate matter in the vicinity.

This allowed the researchers to pinpoint both aircraft noise and air pollution exposures for each individual over a period of 15 years or longer.   Continued...