Noise Brings the Heart out of the Rhythm

University Medical Center Mainz publishes new results on noise pollution from the Gutenberg Health Study

noise pollution

As the level of noise increases, the incidence of atrial fibrillation increases dramatically. Scientists from the Center for Cardiology of the Mainz University Medical Center were able to prove this with data from the Gutenberg Health Study. They found that the incidence of atrial fibrillation in extreme noise nuisance increases to 23 percent, compared to just 15 percent without this environmental impact. Looking at the proportion of sources of extreme noise pollution, aviation noise came first with 84 percent during the day and 69 percent during sleep. These results from the Gutenberg Health Study have now been published in the current issue of the renowned journal “International Journal of Cardiology”.

Noise annoyance is the most important indicator for deciding which noise levels should be considered significant or unacceptable and have a harmful effect on health. Annoyance, disturbed sleep, exhaustion and stress symptoms due to noise permanently impair well-being, health and quality of life. “We have already been able to prove the connection between noise and vascular disease in several studies in healthy volunteers, patients and also in preclinical studies. To date, there has been no explicit exploration of the extent to which there is a connection between noise pollution and cardiac arrhythmias, “emphasizes Univ.-Prof. Dr. Thomas Münzel, Director of Cardiology I at the Center for Cardiology and senior author of the study.

The effects of noise pollution have been the subject of research within the framework of the Gutenberg Health Study (GHS). The GHS is one of the largest studies of its kind in the world, involving more than 15,000 women and men from the state capital of Rhineland-Palatinate and the district of Mainz-Bingen between the ages of 35 and 74 years. The researchers investigated the relationship between different sources of noise during the day and at night during sleep and the most common arrhythmia in the general population, the atrial fibrillation. The study found that increasing noise pollution is associated with a significant increase in the frequency of atrial fibrillation. This grew up to 23 percent in extreme noise pollution, with no noise pollution this figure was only 15 percent. In this context, it has been shown that aircraft noise accounts for the largest share of extreme noise pollution: 84 percent during the day and 69 percent during sleep. The aircraft noise pollution affected 60 percent of the population, more than every second in the Mainz-Bingen region. Thus, it clearly outperformed other noise sources such as road, rail or neighborhood noise.

“The study shows for the first time that noise pollution from various sources during the day and at night sleep is associated with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation,” concludes study leader Omar Hahad, research associate at the Center for Cardiology, Cardiology I. “Overall, we were able to exert a stronger influence observe the nocturnal noise pollution on the heart rhythm. “

Participants in the GHS study had been asked to rate how much they have been harassed in recent years by road, rail, construction, trade and neighborhood noise and aircraft noise, both day and night. Noise pollution was recorded using internationally accepted, standardized questionnaires. Atrial fibrillation was diagnosed on the basis of the medical history (anamnestic) and / or on the study ECG.

“The relationship between noise pollution and atrial fibrillation is an important finding that may also explain why noise can lead to more strokes. However, one should not forget that noise also leads to damage to health without the need for an irritating reaction “, says Prof. Münzel.

In addition, the impact of the night-time ban introduced by Frankfurt am Main airport (23.00 to 05.00 hours) from October 2011 on the aircraft noise reported by the participants was examined. “Interestingly, there was a significant increase in aircraft noise after the introduction of the no-fly ban, both during the day and at night,” commented Münzel. “This could be due to the fact that in spite of the ban on night flights altogether the number of flight movements has not decreased and the flight movements have concentrated more in the marginal hours from 10 pm to 11 pm and 5 to 6 pm. The consequences would be, inter alia, an extension of the nocturnal ban from currently 23 to 5 o’clock in the morning to 22 o’clock to 6 o’clock in the morning, and thus to a period of time,

Restrictive, the study leaders point out that noise pollution was measured and not the physical noise. Since this is a cross-sectional study, no statements can be made about cause-effect relationships, although various longitudinal studies have shown a correlation between noise and cardiovascular events and thus an overall causal effect. In any case, the findings underline that noise pollution is a common and serious health problem.

Source : University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz