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Major study links chronic noise exposure to risk of heart attacks

Research published online (Thursday 24 November) in European's leading cardiology journal, European Heart Journal[1], links exposure to chronic noise with an increased risk of heart attack.

Furthermore, the risk seems to be associated more with the physiological effect of environmental and work noise than with the annoyance it causes individuals, although there are differences in effects between men and women.

Their findings have prompted researchers from Charit University Medical Centre in Berlin, Germany, to call for the level requiring workplace ear protection to be lowered from the current 85 decibels, widely used in western Europe, to somewhere between 65 and 75 decibels. They believe this is especially important for people with existing cardiovascular disease.

In a case-control study involving all 32 hospitals in Berlin between 1998 and 2001, the researchers compared over 2,000 heart attack patients with over 2,000 control patients admitted to trauma and general surgery departments. Of the 4,115 total, about three-quarters were men and a quarter were women. The mean age of the men was 56 and the mean age of the women was 58.

The NaRoMI (Noise and Risk of Myocardial Infarction) study was designed to determine the association between chronic noise and the risk of heart attack in men and in women and to assess the risks of subjective annoyance and objective noise levels in the environment and the workplace. The research team used interviews and independent environmental and work noise assessments in their analysis. The findings apply to men and women under 70 living in cities, who had non-fatal heart attacks.

Lead author Dr Stefan Willich, Director of the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics at the medical centre, said: "Our results demonstrate that chronic noise exposure is associated with a mildly to moderately increased risk of heart attack. The increase appears more closely associated with ac
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Contact: Margaret Willson
m.willson@mwcommunications.org.uk
44-153-677-2181
European Society of Cardiology
23-Nov-2005


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