Could abnormal sound levels impair heart health?

  • May-13-2013
  • Richard Reich

Medical research, in recent years, has established a relationship between excessive noise levels and a gradual impairment of hearing. Other studies have shown that even moderately loud sounds can have a degrading impact on this sense. However, a new study has shown that even the slightest noises – a car horn or a jackhammer at a construction site – can create temporary but potentially harmful fluctuations in a person’s heartbeat.

According to a report published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a scientific research journal, an investigation involving 110 people fitted with heart rate monitors showed that changes in a person’s anticipated sound level, or the level of noise they are accustomed to, can briefly increase a person’s pulse.

Additionally, researchers noted that participants’ so-called “heart variability” – which relates to beat changes during inhalation and exhalation – may be negatively impacted. Medical experts have suggested that a lower variability can raise an individual’s risk of suffering from a cardiovascular event like a heart attack.

The findings suggest that folks who have a higher chance of developing heart disease may want to show caution around sources of loud noises.

“Our main focus was to find a possible mechanism that could be responsible for the observed health effects in other studies,” Alexandra Schneider, a┬áresearcher who was involved with the project, told HealthDay, an online healthcare publication.

The developments could point to a correlation between heart attack risk and sound-induced stress, which may increase over time. As such, folks with medical histories that point to cardiovascular illness should consider ways to protect themselves and their families financially, including a life insurance policy.

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