Living in polluted quarters may be more than simply embarrassing because new research suggests that it increases the risk for serious heart problems.
It seems that the chronic traffic and airport noise triggers an amygdal, a brain region that is critically involved in regulating stress, a brain is discovered.
The noise is also associated with increased inflammation of the arteries, which is a risk factor for stroke, heart attack and heart disease, said Dr. Azar Radfar's researcher.
She studied at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
"We are not the first group to talk about noise and cardiovascular disease," Radfar said. "What we really show here is a mechanism that connects noise with major adverse cardiovascular events."
For research, Radfar and her colleagues analyzed images of 499 healthy people, looking specifically at the brain and blood vessels.
Investigators then used the home address of the participant to estimate the noise levels of their neighborhoods, based on noise data on aircraft and motorways conducted by the US Traffic Department.
People in the louder quarters had greater activity in the amygdals and more inflammation in their arteries, researchers discovered.
The research team then followed the study participants for an average of 3.7 years to see if these symptoms of stress lead to heart problems.
The results have shown that people with chronic noise have greater than threefold risk of heart attack, stroke or other major cardiovascular events compared with those who had lower levels of exposure to noise.
That risk remained elevated even after researchers had other risk factors, such as air pollution, high cholesterol, smoking and diabetes.
But the study could not prove that the noise caused a rise in cardiac risk.
However, the amygdala seems to increase the risk of heart disease, causing the release of hormones that stimulate blood vessel inflammation, researchers concluded.
Dr. Nieca Goldberg is the director of the NYU Langone Tisch Women's Health Center in New York. She said, based on this research, that noise is "a link to the cardiovascular risk chain, and I think it is an interesting question for doctors to ask their patients when assessing their cardiac risk."
Radfar even suggested that people who were affected by traffic noise could sound sound isolation of their homes.
At community level, highways and urbanists can protect the population by making road and noise barriers a part of road construction, Radfar suggested.
And, Goldberg added, if you're in a noisy neighborhood, you might want to consider other ways to reduce stress. This may include yoga, meditation, or aerobic exercise.
The results will be presented on November 11 at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago. Such research is considered preliminary until published in a review review journal.