Thousands of people in Britain and around the world are dying prematurely from heart disease triggered by long-term exposure to excessive noise, according to research by the World Health Organisation. Coronary heart disease caused 101,000 deaths in the UK in 2006, and the study suggests that 3,030 of these are caused by chronic noise exposure, including to daytime traffic.But what's amazing is how they came to this conclusion:
The WHO came to its figures by comparing households with abnormally high exposure to noise with those in quieter homes. It also studied people with problems such as coronary heart disease and tried to work out if high noise levels had been a factor in developing the condition. This data was then combined with maps showing the noisiest European cities.Man, this is worse than smoking, or hypertension, or hypercholesterolemia! Imagine all those poor new mothers with crying babies at risk of sudden death! Or worse still, construction workers should have prophylactic defibrillators implanted before using that jackhammer! Quick everyone, don your ear plugs. It might just save your life!
And if it doesn't, well at least you won't have to listen to this report...
But to be fair, there have been reports of sudden death in patients with Long QT syndrome who are startled by a sudden loud noise such as an alarm clock. And noise does increase adrenaline levels. But is noise alone the CAUSE of all of these cardiovascular deaths in Britain when NO other confounding variables have been controlled?
What gets into these guys?
New Scientist's "Special Report".
World Health Organization's Noise Web Page.