Environmental influences: blood pressure increases with noise and air pollution
It has long been known that environmental influences play an important role in our health. A study has now shown that factors such as air pollution and street noise can help to raise blood pressure.
Health risk from air pollution
It has long been known that air pollution is associated with a high health risk. Among other things, it increases the risk of stroke, as a scientific study showed. Noise also makes you sick, it causes headaches, nervousness, inner unrest and stress. Both factors - bad air and noise - can also have a negative impact on blood pressure.
Noise promotes hypertension
According to a new Europe-wide study published in the "European Heart Journal", long-term exposure of people to air pollution is associated with the more frequent occurrence of high blood pressure. The study, in which over 41,000 subjects in five countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Spain) were observed for up to nine years, shows that both air pollution and traffic noise are separately associated with the occurrence of hypertension.
"The relationship between air pollution and hypertension remained, even if noise, which is often present together with air pollution, was taken into account in the analysis as a disruptive factor," wrote Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf in a message.
Previous studies have shown connections
Previous studies have shown that the two factors have an impact on blood pressure. Chinese researchers recently reported that air pollution increases the risk of high blood pressure. And a study by the Mainz University Clinic showed years ago that night aircraft noise increases blood pressure in the long term.
Part of a European project
In the current study, which is part of the European project “European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects” (ESCAPE), information about the blood pressure and blood pressure medication of the test subjects was initially recorded. “Only those who had no hypertension at the start of the observation were considered for the analysis. A total of 6,207 people (15 percent) developed hypertension during the observation period, ”says the message.
Between 2008 and 2011, in a large-scale measurement campaign in the study regions, air pollution was measured using a standardized method and then assigned to the participants' home addresses. Fine dust was measured in different size classes: the smallest particles were up to 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) in size, the larger ones up to ten micrometers (PM10). In addition, soot particles were measured (PM2.5 absorbance) and the traffic density in the vicinity of the home address was recorded. The extent of road traffic noise was taken from the EU noise mapping.
Difference between the cleanest and dirtiest quarters
It was shown that per five micrograms / m3 PM2.5 the risk of developing high blood pressure increased by 22 percent. Five µg / m3 PM2.5 roughly corresponds to the difference between the most polluted area in a city and the cleanest area in a city.
Higher soot concentrations also increased the risk of illness. Participants whose nighttime noise level was around 60 dB (A) were therefore at a six percent higher risk of developing high blood pressure than participants whose nighttime noise level was 50 dB (A).
Big burden for patients
“Our results show that long-term exposure to air pollution increases the risk of hypertension. This is important because practically everyone is exposed to air pollution to a greater or lesser extent and for a lifetime, ”said study leader Dr. Barbara Hoffmann, Professor of Environmental Epidemiology at the Institute for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, Center for Health and Society at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf.
And further: "In the long run, this leads to a high number of hypertension diseases, which is a great burden for the affected patients, but also for society."
Current laws are not enough
These relationships could be seen even at fine dust concentrations well below the applicable EU limit values. "As a consequence, current legislation cannot adequately protect the population from the adverse effects of air pollution," the university writes. And: "Against the background of widespread air pollution and the importance of high blood pressure, the results of the study underline the need for better regulation of air quality values to protect public health." (Ad)