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Hearing management

Updated 14 December 2017

Blood pressure may soar if you live near an airport

Rates of high blood pressure nearly doubled for people exposed to constant aircraft noise, a study found.

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Living near an airport isn't just hard on your hearing, it may also be hard on your heart, new research suggests.

"The volume of air traffic has skyrocketed since jet-powered planes were introduced in the 1960s," said study author Marta Rojek, a researcher at Jagiellonian University Medical College in Krakow, Poland. "According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation, there were 64 million take-offs and landings in 2013 and this figure is set to double in the next 20 years."

"The steady growth in air traffic and expansion of airports, along with the development of residential areas near airports, has led to more people being exposed to aircraft noise," Rojek said in a European Society of Cardiology news release.

She added there is emerging evidence that exposure to aircraft noise may increase the risk of high blood pressure, especially at night. There's also some data that suggest hospitalisation for heart disease and stroke may increase with exposure to airplane noise, she said.

Read: Noise pollution besieges Europe

The new study included 201 people between the ages of 40 and 66. Approximately half lived in an area with high levels of aircraft noise for more than three years. The other group had low exposure to aircraft noise for more than three years.

People in high-noise areas were more likely to have high blood pressure – 40 percent vs. 24 percent. People exposed to more aircraft noise were also more likely to have heart damage, the study showed.

Although the study wasn't designed to prove cause-and-effect, the "results suggest that living near an airport for three years or more is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure and hypertension. These changes may then lead to damage of the aorta and heart which could increase the risk of having a heart attack," Rojek said.

"More work is needed to enforce laws on exposure to aircraft noise as it is detrimental to our health. We also need further research to understand how the damage occurs and whether it can be reversed," she concluded.

The findings were presented recently at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Sophia Antipolis, France. Studies presented at meetings are typically considered preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Read more:

Is your job making you deaf?

Tinnitus: why the ringing in your ears can be hard to treat

Misophonia: why certain sounds drive you crazy

 

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Hearing Expert

Dr Kara Hoffman graduated from UCT in 2004, thereafter she completed her year of community service in Durban. In 2010 she completed her Masters Degree in Paediatric Aural Rehabilitation from UKZN. In 2016, she became a Doctor of Audiology through the University of Arizona (ATSU). Dr Hoffman and her partner Lauren Thompson opened a fully diagnostic audiology practice called Thompson & Hoffman Audiology Inc. In 2011 with world-class technology and equipment to be able to offer the broad public all hearing-related services including hearing testing for adults and babies, vestibular (balance) assessments and rehabilitation, industrial audiology, hearing devices, central auditory processing assessments for school-aged children, school screening, neonatal hearing screening programmes at Alberlito and Parklands Hospital, cochlear implants and other implantable devices, medicolegal assessments and advanced electroacoustic assessments of hearing. Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. are based at Alberlito Hospital in Ballito, St Augustines Hospital in Durban and at 345 Essenwood Road, Musgrave. The practices are all wheelchair friendly. There are three audiologists that practice from Thompson & Hoffman – including Dr Kara Hoffman, Lauren Thompson & Minette Lister. The practice boasts professional, highly qualified, and extensive diagnostic services where all your hearing healthcare needs can be met. The additional licensing in vestibular assessment and rehabilitation, paediatric rehabilitation and cochlear implantation places this practice in one of the top specialist audiological positions in South Africa, with a wealth of experience in all clinical areas of audiology and is a very well respected and sought-after practice.

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