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By Alexandra Krueger

Noise Pollution Poses New Threat to Heart Health

Yep, you read that right: the newest threat to heart health is noise pollution, a term just barely being recognized on the medical scene but has been present since the Industrial Revolution. According to a review paper recently published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, prolonged exposure to noise pollution may increase the risk of heart disease, including Coronary Artery Disease, hypertension, and heart failure.

“Noise pollution” is defined by Environmental Pollution Centers as regular exposure to elevated sound levels that may lead to adverse effects on humans or other living organisms. While the research doesn’t prove that loud noises directly cause heart disease, it does show that continued exposure cause an increase in stress hormone levels and oxidative stress which may result in endothelial dysfunction and arterial hypertension.

Luckily, San Joaquin county doesn’t carry the heavy burden of traffic like the Bay Area, nor do we deal with a myriad of factories churning and burning 24/7—we do, however, deal with other noise pollutants, particularly our numerous railroad crossings and the Stockton and Modesto airports.

“We always tell our patients that there are factors that you can do something about and factors that you can’t,” states Dr. Ramin Manshadi, MD, Cardiologist at Manshadi Heart Institute, Inc. and President of the California chapter of the American College of Cardiology (ACC). “Exercise, watch your weight, diet, quit smoking—if you do these things you can lower your risk of developing diabetes and hypertension,” he lists. “As far as pollutants in the air, as well as noise pollution, to some degree there is something you can do about them.”

If you live near train tracks or in the flight path of the airport, the most obvious course of action would be to relocate. However, it’s rare that any person or family can just pick up and move to a new location. Dr. Owais Khawaja, Interventional Cardiologist with Stockton Cardiology, suggests other solutions for those who have no choice but to stay put.

“Having good insulation in the home is one important way you can minimize the noise, as well as using ear plugs while sleeping,” states Dr. Khawaja. “However, from a policy perspective, local governments should move toward monitoring and limiting sound levels and implementing laws similar to those for air pollution.”

Until then, Dr. Maria Currie, a Stanford Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Dameron Hospital, emphasizes that stress relief is imperative to maintaining a healthy heart. “Any activities that reduce stress and lower the amount of noise exposure will help,” states Dr. Currie. “For some people meditation or prayer is effective. Yoga may also be effective.”

The most common effect of noise pollution? Sleep deprivation. That too can lead to cardiovascular issues. “Sleep is the time the whole body needs to rest,” says Dr. Manshadi. “If that gets disrupted, then you’ll get into this chronic fatigue syndrome, which by itself can lead to many diseases.”

The bottom line according to Dr. Khawaja—though it may be difficult for many to manage—is simply to stay away from the stimulus.

“I always say this: If you have your hand on the fire, no matter what creams and drugs you use, you’re still going to get burnt,” Dr. Khawaja says. “If the noise is affecting your sleep, and increasing your stress, it’s also going to be affecting your heart’s performance.”

For More Information:
Dameron Hospital
525 W. Acacia St., Stockton
(209) 944-5550

The Manshadi Heart Institute
2633 Pacific Ave., Stockton
(209) 944-5530

Stockton Cardiology Medical Group
415 E. Harding Way, Suite D, Stockton
(209) 944-5750

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