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Scientists link traffic noise to hypertension

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By Timothy Akintola

Elevated blood pressure connected to traffic noise and air pollution.

New findings published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology has revealed that noise emanating from traffic has been associated with increasing the liability of hypertension. This study which was recently published points to a strong evidence of the connection between blood pressure elevation and roaring engines, horns and sirens. Jing Huang, the lead author of this research and Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Science at Peking University, Beijing, China, expressed surprise at the connection of traffic noise and hypertension, even after air pollution adjustments.

Although previous research works show the links between these two subjects, none have sufficiently shown their casual connection. This time around, a sufficient and prospective research was carried out with the use of the United Kingdom’s Biobank data which have envisaged health outcomes over time. They had reportedly analyzed data of over 240,000 people, between the age of 40 to 69 years old, commencing without hypertension and road traffic noise, on the basis of residential addresses, as well as a European assessment model, known as the Common Noise Assessment Method.

Liability of hypertension increases in tandem with traffic noise.

With the use of follow-up data with a median of 8.1 years, the research was employed in identifying how many people developed the health issue. The study found that not only did the people living around road traffic noise become more likely to develop hypertension, the liability also increased in tandem with the noise. In fact, the report further pointed out that individuals exposed to both traffic noise and air pollution were more liable to suffer the severity of this health condition, as air pollution also played a significant part as well.

Huang noted that field studies were in place for further understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms by which traffic noises aid hypertension. In a previous study conducted in 2009 and published in the Journal for Environmental Health, Theo Bodin, one of the researchers that investigated the connection between living close to noisy environments and increased blood pressure, noted that road traffic was one of the most significant factors of environmental noise and this exposure could cause changes in blood pressure, heart rate and stressed hormones. The study even disclosed that at least 30 percent of the European Union population were exposed to day-night averages of traffic noise.

Stakeholders must ensure stricter regulations against this health case.

Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, following the cases of high level noises that most Lagosians had been subjected to, decided to ban the use of amplifiers, microphones and megaphones across all motor parks, in a bid to curb noise pollution in the state. Also, Dr. Livinus Ede, a cardiologist, noted that there was a significant need for stakeholders to ensure and enforce stricter regulations against this subject, whilst working for an improved safety condition of the road users.

Moreover, medical professionals have also indicated that at least 76.2 million Nigerians were hypertensive. The Executive Director of the Nigerian Heart Foundation, Dr. Kingsley Akinroye, in 2022 also backed this fact, noting that the prevalence in hypertension cases was rising, with about 38.1 percent. He indicated that one in every three Nigerians were hypertensive, with one-third of this huge number receiving treatments. The 2018 WHO Non-Communicable Disease profile also suggested that about 29 percent of deaths in Nigeria were due to NCD and only 11 percent was accounted to cardiovascular diseases.

Regular blood pressure check and dietary habits urged to curb hypertension.

While Nigeria has not conducted its national representative survey in a long while for the obtainable of the NCD data, a systematic review of NCD and its liability factors were immensely considered. Per this review, Nigeria’s hypertension rate significantly increased to be 31.2 percent. Mr. Chibee Okechukwu, a registered nurse, indicated that noise led to poor quality of sleep, which in turn contributes to the heightened blood pressure. Dr. Tomiwa Fagbemi, a Senior Register in Internal Medicine at the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, thus emphasized the need for everyone to consistently check their blood pressure and adopt dietary habits to curb hypertension.

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