Loud noises, it turns out, not only jangle your nerves… but also mangle your heart!
A new study out of Germany has found that those leaf blowers, honking horns, and other disrupting sounds can send your risk of heart disease soaring.
So, if you want to protect your ticker, you’re going to need to take extra steps to stifle some of the constant racket we all seem to be exposed to these days.
And according to another new study, there’s one very important time when peace and quiet is absolutely mandatory if you plan on keeping your heart healthy!
Here’s what you need to know.
A dangerous din
When you’re exposed to loud sounds, what you’re actually hearing is simply the annoying tip of the iceberg.
According to researchers from the University Medical Center in Mainz, Germany, noise can “disrupt the body” in such a way that significantly ups your risk of heart failure, stroke, and coronary artery disease.
While traffic din has previously been found to increase heart disease in general, this is the first time that the actual “mechanisms” that cause such damage have been uncovered.
And those findings, just published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, reveal that constant clamor affects us at a molecular level.
The German scientists discovered that noise “induces a stress response” that triggers a whole-body reaction that leads straight to significantly reduced vascular function.
Of course, like most researchers, they also suggested a variety of helpful solutions, including “low-noise tires” and curfews on air traffic. But seriously, if you’re being bombarded by loud sounds all the time, I don’t think you’ll want to wait for those ideas to show up on Shark Tank!
And as I mentioned, there are times when silence becomes even more golden – such as when you’re sleeping (or trying to get some sleep, anyway).
Sure, it can be nearly impossible to get your Zzzz’s when it sounds like a disco party is going on next door — but it turns out that even when you do finally drift off to dreamland, the damage doesn’t stop.
Another study, this one published in Noise Health (that’s right, it’s a big enough problem to have its own journal!), found that being exposed to nighttime noise can cause your body to release the damaging stress hormone cortisol. And that can result in big spikes in your blood pressure, even when you’re sleeping.
Of course, what you’ll need to do to shut out high-decibel disturbances depends on where you live.
Residing in a condo or apartment where you can even hear you neighbor’s toilet flush will take a different approach than if you live in a big house in the country.
But wherever you call home, there are some good ways to keep a lid on the loudness factor.
- Furnishings such as rugs and heavy drapes can help to “absorb” sound.
- If you’re shopping for a new appliance, look for “quiet” models, especially when it comes to dishwashers and washing machines.
- If the gardeners at your condo tend to act like approaching soldiers armed with leaf blowers, get their schedule and then be sure to leave the house and go shopping while they’re there. Or better yet, get some peace and quiet at the library!
- If you live in the city, keep your windows closed at night to block traffic sounds.
And if none of those options are enough, a pair of earplugs or noise-blocking headphones and some relaxing music are sure to help.
Just don’t listen to any rock or heavy metal!
“Traffic noise-induced harm to cardiovascular system” American College of Cardiology, February 5, 2018, ScienceDaily, sciencedaily.com