Noise from busy roads might increase heart disease risk, finds new study.

Traffic noise, as well as air pollution, could affect heart health, according to new research published today in the European Heart Journal.

A group of scientists, led by Dr Yutong Cai from Imperial College London, and including other Centre members Anna Hansell, Marta Blangiardo, John Gulliver, David Morley, Paul Elliott and Susan Hodgson alongside colleagues in the BioSHaRE project, have published a paper entitled "Long-term exposure to road traffic noise, ambient air pollution, and cardiovascular risk factors in the HUNT and lifelines cohorts".

This research has investigated the links between air and noise pollution and biological markers in the blood that might predict heart disease in the future. The team found evidence that excessive traffic noise and air pollution are in fact both linked to increases in these heart disease risk markers.Urban air pollution has been linked to a range of health problems, such as stroke, asthma, and heart disease. The risk of diseases or death related to air pollution is increased for those people living closer to busy roads. However, until now, there have been few studies to investigate the effects of noise pollution and air pollution on health – two factors which are often found together.

Dr Cai, who conducted the research as part of his PhD and who is now an Early Career Research Fellow in the Centre, said: “When studying road traffic noise, it can be difficult to differentiate between air and noise pollution, as they often go hand in hand. Our findings contribute to the strong scientific evidence that both air pollution and traffic noise are bad for our health, although to further differentiate between air and noise pollution will need more work. Either way, the message is clear: public health policy must act on these environmental stressors to protect our health and wellbeing.”

BioSHaRE (Biobank Standardisation and Harmonisation for Research Excellence in the European Union) aims to facilitate data harmonisation and standardisation, data sharing and pooling across multiple biobanks and databases. It is a consortium of leading population-based cohort studies, with international researchers from diverse domains of biobanking science, including epidemiologists, statisticians, software developers and ELSI experts.

Read the Imperial College news story here and the full article here.