The sound that raises your blood pressure

Growing up in New York, I vividly remember driving down the highway to the city with my parents, staring at the strings of houses a stone’s throw away, so close I could almost see into their windows.

I remember wondering, “How can they stand it? The smell? And the constant noise?” I was grateful I didn’t live there.

I was too young to think about how their proximity to the highway affected their health. But it surely did.

Studies show that living close to roadways is linked to health conditions ranging from tinnitus to Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, we’re finding out that the sound of road traffic can contribute to blood pressure problems…

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Road noise raises blood pressure

We’ve known for some time now that there’s a link between exposure to traffic noise and hypertension, but scientists have never been able to show a causal relationship between the two (that noise pollution actually causes hypertension), until now.

By analyzing data from the U.K. Biobank, researchers from Peking University’s School of Public Health have been able to show that living near road traffic increases a person’s likelihood of developing hypertension.

In fact, the risk is “dose-related,” meaning the more noise a person is exposed to, the greater their risk.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 240,000 people aged 40 to 69 years who did not have hypertension when research began.

They estimated road traffic noise based on residential address and a European modeling tool called the Common Noise Assessment Method.

During an eight-year follow-up, people living near road traffic were more likely to develop hypertension. This remained true even when researchers adjusted for exposure to fine particles and nitrogen dioxide.

In an editorial comment on the study, Dr. Jiandong Zhang says, “The data demonstrated in this article provides a higher quality of evidence to justify the potential to modify road traffic noise and air pollution from both individual and societal levels in improving cardiovascular health.”

Dr. Zhang is a cardiovascular disease fellow in the division of cardiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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So how can you avoid the risk?

If you live in a noisy high-traffic area, you may not have the option to just pick up and move.

Inevitably, you’re going to be exposed to some traffic noise pollution that may affect your blood pressure, so try to limit your exposure…

  • Avoid being outside during heavy traffic hours.
  • Try to cancel out the sounds of traffic close to your home. A high wooden fence can help cancel out some of the noise.
  • Seal any leaks around exterior windows and consider soundproofing curtains or window inserts.
  • Try ambient sounds to drown out the traffic noise. Outside, a water fountain or wind chimes may provide more serene sounds. Inside, a sound machine or ambient noise app will let you choose soothing, peaceful sounds that you can become accustomed to. In some cases, the noise of a fan may be helpful.  
  • As a last resort, consider wearing earplugs during times of the day when the traffic is highest and noisiest.
  • Escape to nature as often as you can. A park that’s not in a high-traffic area could be ideal. The sounds of nature improve positive emotions and health outcomes.

You may be on medication for your blood pressure already. Unfortunately, if it’s resistant to treatment, many doctors will just add on more and more levels of medication.

There are natural solutions that help or complement blood pressure lowering, like the powerful antioxidant pterostilbene.

If you’re on blood pressure medication already, check with your prescribing physician before adding anything and never stop medication without discussing it.

Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!


Road noise makes your blood pressure rise — literally Science Daily

Road Traffic Noise and Incidence of Primary Hypertension: A Prospective Analysis in UK Biobank JACC: Advances

Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.