Night flight noise permanently increases blood pressure

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New study on aircraft noise: night aircraft noise raises blood pressure

Aircraft noise leads to health problems such as high blood pressure and can even trigger a heart attack or stroke. A study by the Mainz University Clinic showed that the noise impaired the vascular function.

Political consequences demand aircraft noise increases the release of the stress hormone adrenaline and impairs vascular function. This was shown by a study with 75 participants, as the Mainz University Clinic announced on Tuesday. Study leader Thomas Münzel said: "We know that aircraft noise can trigger high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes." So far, however, the exact mechanisms leading to these cardiovascular diseases have not been known. According to Münzel, director of the 2nd Medical Clinic and Polyclinic, new insights could be gained: "This study shows very specifically how and at what sound levels vascular damage occurs." The results of the study should lead to political consequences, the scientists demanded.

Aircraft noise in the bedroom For the study, 75 healthy men and women were exposed to aircraft noise at an average of 60 decibels in their bedrooms at night. The subjects were divided into three groups. Some were exposed to 30 simulated night flights per night, the others with 60 and for the third group the night was noiseless. 30 flights corresponded to an equivalent continuous sound level of 43 decibels, 60 flights to 46 decibels. Such values ​​are regularly achieved in Rhein-Main.

Disorders similar to smokers During the study, the participants were filmed while sleeping with an infrared camera and the researchers used ultrasound devices to determine the vascular function. It was shown that night flight noise in the test subjects increased the stress hormone adrenaline and significantly worsened the function of the blood vessels. First author Frank Schmidt from the University Medical Center Mainz explained: "Our study results show that the arteries' ability to expand decreases in the same way as the flight noise increases." According to Schmidt, several of the test persons developed a malfunction of the inner wall of the blood vessels, as can also be observed in smokers be.

Humans do not get used to the noise Münzel summarized the main finding of the investigation: "Aircraft noise already leads to a deterioration of vascular function in healthy volunteers in just one night." It was also a surprising result that it became apparent that humans apparently do not get used to it of nightly aircraft noise. For example, the researchers followed a night with 30 overflights followed by a night with 60 overflights and found that an increase in the number of flights resulted in a significantly poorer vascular function than in subjects who had to endure 60 overflights directly. “This means that you don't get used to aircraft noise in the context of several sound systems, but the extent of the vascular damage tends to increase,” said Münzel.

Vitamin C helps The study also showed that vascular damage can be treated with vitamin C. The vitamin binds the free radicals in the blood that have formed due to the noise. "Of course, this does not mean that vitamin C can easily solve the consequences of aircraft noise," says Schmidt.

Further studies In many cities, aircraft noise has increased significantly in recent years. There is a greater need for scientific knowledge about the health effects of increasing air traffic. It was only in March that a study by the Federal Environment Agency around Cologne / Bonn Airport showed that aircraft noise increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Mainz University Medical Center is currently working on a study examining the effects of aircraft noise in patients with existing cardiovascular diseases. And the noise impact study “NORAH” (Noise-Related Annoyance, Cognition, and Health) should deliver initial results on the effects of traffic noise in general by summer 2014. (ad)

Photo credit: Ulla Trampert /

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