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Do you live near a busy road? If so, you may want to take note of a new study that reveals a link between road traffic noise and high blood pressure. Researchers analyzed data from more than 240,000 participants in the UK Biobank database who did not initially have hypertension, using residential addresses and a European modeling tool to determine exposure to road traffic noise. The study found that people living near road traffic noise were more likely to develop high blood pressure, with the risk increasing with the level of noise exposure. This finding was true even when the researchers accounted for other factors such as Pollution from the traffic. The study also found that living in noisy and polluted areas amplified the risk of hypertension.

The study’s senior author, Professor Kazem Rahimi of the University of Oxford, explains that since areas that are noisy tend to have high levels of air Pollution as well, there is a question about whether both factors are contributing to the risk. The study found that each factor independently contributes to risk, with those who had high exposure to both noise and air Pollution having the highest risk of hypertension.

So what can be done to reduce the risk of hypertension caused by road traffic noise? Professor Rahimi suggests that policymakers should make road traffic noise control a societal effort. This could involve setting stricter noise guidelines, enforcing them more effectively, improving road conditions and urban design, and investing in quieter vehicles such as electric vehicles.

Hypertension is a significant health concern globally, with an estimated 1.28 billion adults aged 30-79 years affected worldwide. The condition increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death in the US. Unfortunately, an estimated 46% of adults with hypertension are unaware that they have it. This is why it’s crucial to have your blood pressure measured regularly, even if you feel fine.

The study’s findings highlight the need to consider road traffic noise as a significant factor in hypertension risk. If you live near a busy road, take steps to reduce your exposure to traffic noise where possible. You could try using earplugs or soundproofing your home, for example. More broadly, policymakers should work to reduce noise levels and promote quieter transportation options to protect public health. 

Regular blood pressure checks are also important to manage hypertension and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Let’s take action to reduce the impact of road traffic noise on our health and wellbeing.

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