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October 6th, 2010
12:03 PM ET

Noisy workplaces could strain heart

Workers in constantly noisy workplaces were two to three times more likely to have serious heart problems as their peers in quiet workplaces, new research shows.

The association between noise and heart problems such as angina, coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease was strong among workers under the age of 50, according to research published online in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, used data from 6,307 participants of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and relied on their self-reported exposure to loud noise in the workplace. Of the sample size, 21.2 percent reported being exposed to chronic occupational noise.

“Chronic exposure to occupational noise is strongly associated with prevalence of CHD (coronary heart disease), especially for young male current smokers. This study suggests that excess noise exposure in the workplace is an important occupational health issue and deserves special attention,” researchers wrote in the article.

In the United States, approximately 17.2 percent workers are exposed to occupation noise – and such persistent loud noise can annoy, cause hearing problems, sleep disturbances and psychological stress, according to an estimate from a previous study.

The authors of the latest study found “long-term exposure to self-reported loud noise in the workplace was associated with a nearly threefold increase in the prevalence of angina pectoris and a twofold increase in the prevalence of [coronary heart disease] and [isolated diastolic hypertension], respectively.” But they did not find a substantial elevation in the level of blood lipids and circulating inflammatory mediators.

What’s deemed as "loud" could be subjective, because the study is self-reported.

Also, the study did not take into account other occupational or environmental factors that are associated with cardiovascular diseases such as shift work and physical workload, noise exposure from road traffic, air pollution. All these factors could affect the estimates in the study, the authors wrote.


soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Charles

    Another moronic post by Bozo Gupta and his people. It's not the noise that's causing the heart strain, it the stress the noise causes. It would be the same to say, "Hamburgers cause heart problems!" Only if you eat them!! Even then, it's not the hamberger, it's the fat and cholesterol. Is there not enough medical news to report that you people have to search this kind of garbage out?

    October 6, 2010 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kenny

      i love hamburgers

      October 7, 2010 at 00:02 | Report abuse |
  2. Jo

    Of course it's the stress. But, in my opinion (as a layperson), until enough studies come out that force Western medicine doctors to stop giving people anti-inflammatory drugs, surgery, and injections for chronic long-term pain that could be resolved by other methods, things will be what they are now. I do believe sufficient truth will eventually lead more people to read about TMS and oxygen deprivation to affected tissues and reduced circulation that can often (but not always) account for a chronic, long-term pain in muscles/joints–like TMJ, RSI, back pain, neck pain, some of the stomach pains, and so on. But until then, there goes the hard-earned cash.

    October 6, 2010 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. CenterOfLeft

    What about loud residences?

    We had to sell our old house last year because the simpletons who moved next door randomly played their music at deafening volumes. I started to lose weight, hair, sleep, get sick, etc. Working-class people have to deal with this b.s. constantly.

    October 6, 2010 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • snorincats

      I knew there were more of us out there! I have lived in places with neighbors like that. Every time I'd ask them (nicely) to turn it down, they'd say they had a right to play their music loud in their own house. Problem is, the noise drifted over to MY house where I ALSO have a right to be able to hear my OWN music (ot TV or just quiet!).!

      October 6, 2010 at 16:07 | Report abuse |
  4. TAW

    How about the fact that people working in a really noisy environment have increased heart and stress issues because most of the time the noice is do to machinery involved in a production environment. So therefore the JOB itself is what is causing the stress and heart issues and not the noise. The noice just happens to be a by product of said job.
    And regardless WGAS? If you listen to everything these clowns tell you you'd have to stay in your house and never come out for fear everything around you will kill you.

    October 6, 2010 at 18:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Bob

    WHAT? I CAN'T HEAR YOU?

    October 6, 2010 at 19:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. mbluesky

    One of the major reasons we live out in the rural middle-of-nowhere is the peace and quiet. Except it's not really quiet .... I hear the birds singing and the leaves rustling. Serene and relaxing. I think people in urban areas would be so much happier if they got serious about noise abatement. In the meantime... I feel sort of guilty about having to drive everywhere, but sitting on my back patio is a mini-spa every night.

    October 6, 2010 at 20:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. r

    What if you think loud? That's probably not good either.

    October 6, 2010 at 20:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. yeahbuddy

    I teach Jr. High. Guess I'm a goner...

    October 6, 2010 at 22:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Michael Stevenson

    A couple of female co-workers in my office talk like wet parrots, I'm sure that it affects my health in a negative way. It's not just the noise, but the content of their inane conversations what may cause apoptosis of brain cells.

    October 6, 2010 at 22:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rin

      Dude, I feel you–and I'm female myself!

      October 7, 2010 at 11:12 | Report abuse |
  10. MikeD

    Did they control for SES or education or anything? It's possible that people who work in quieter environments just have a more white collar lifestyle and probably more money. Those things are negatively related to health problems. I would be pretty skeptical of this research if it is cross-sectional, self-report, and lacks controls.

    October 6, 2010 at 23:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Blue collar Mark

    It's the noise!! After 16 years of working in a welding shop with shotblast machines that run 10 hours a day, I come home dead tired and deaf. One of my co-workers even committed suicide last month. The stress of not being able to hear yourself think all day wears you out, and i'm so sure having to yell just to talk to someone two feet from you raises your blood pressure to a dangerous level. I wish I could quit!!!!

    October 6, 2010 at 23:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cpw

      I know what you mean! I used to work in a meat processing plant... grinders, patty machines, giant tenderizers... and the environment was much like a restaurant kitchen so everyone was constantly yelling at everyone else to coordinate the operation. 10-12 hours a day in 45 degrees. I used to dream about that place every night. I finally quit 6 months after I became supervisor. I felt bad about it but just couldn't take it anymore.

      October 7, 2010 at 09:17 | Report abuse |
  12. Jon

    This is a proper study worth reporting on? Hahahaha

    October 7, 2010 at 02:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. ruzik

    I am really concerned after this article.my group is very noisy at university and every day i come home squeezed as lemon.oooooooooooooo it is unbearable!

    October 7, 2010 at 05:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. tom

    it is a problem

    October 7, 2010 at 05:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. rhea

    Just for the sake of conducting a survey without considering the different factors or situation. However I believe that most heart strains are due to stress, although this is only one factor and is the most common. Let us just take good care of our health for our sake, our family and our pockets.
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    October 7, 2010 at 06:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Mark Knight

    Lets see... Noisy work place or running for your life from a saber tooth tiger. I'm thinking human beings have become way to soft to matter in the grand scheme of evolution.

    October 7, 2010 at 07:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. carolae

    I agree with the "moronic post". Has anyone ever PROVED this fact? What about the NASCAR drivers racing around the track during practice? True, that it's not for 8 hrs but I guess it must be a slow news day or they are just 'reaching' for something controversial. I can think of a lot of a lot of workplaces where the noise level might be high but that doesn't mean you're going to have heart disease. If that were the case, everyone who ever was in the service and fought in the field, would have heart problems. Give us a break!

    October 7, 2010 at 08:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. D.

    And thanks why God created Ipods. Just tune them out!

    October 7, 2010 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Blue collar worker

    Blue collar Mark and anybody else ever heard of ear plugs!

    October 7, 2010 at 09:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Pirogi

    I wonder if those more likely to self-report a noisy environment are more sensitive to noise in general, which would cause them more stress to be in a noisy environment. The folks who don't mind the noise, don't experience the stress, and didn't report a noisy workplace.

    October 7, 2010 at 10:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Robert

    Noise is very dangerous for Heart patients.Employees having any kind of brain and heart disease should not work in noise environment.They are most probable for occupational illnesses .
    My uncle is also suffering from Occupational Illnesses.He is taking help from http://www.workinjuryie.com/occupational-illnesses/ .Any body can try it. 

    October 11, 2010 at 06:39 | Report abuse | Reply
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    October 11, 2010 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.