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Hearing management

Updated 13 December 2017

Traffic noise increases the risk of heart attack

In patients who died of heart attack in the Rhine-Main region of Germany, a statistically significant association was found between noise exposure and the risk of heart attack.

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Your risk of heart attack increases with the amount of traffic noise to which you are exposed. The increase in risk - though slight - is greatest with road and rail traffic noise, less with aircraft noise.

Prevention of traffic noise

Such are the conclusions reached by Andreas Seidler and co-authors in the Deutsches Ärzteblatt International after evaluating information from statutory health insurers on over a million Germans over the age of 40 (Dtsch Arztbl Int; 2016; 113: 407-14).

Read: How noise pollution threatens your health

In this case-control study of secondary data, the addresses of persons living in the Rhine-Main region were matched precisely to road, rail, and traffic noise exposure measurements for 2005.

When the analysis was restricted to patients who died of heart attack up to 2014/2015, a statistically significant association was found between noise exposure and the risk of heart attack.

The authors believe the lower risk from aircraft noise can be explained by the fact that, unlike road and rail traffic noise, aircraft noise never remains continuously above 65 dB. They also see indications from their analysis that exposure to traffic noise influences not just the genesis, but the course of a heart attack.

Read: The 10 worst jobs for your ears

Although strictly speaking these results show only an association between traffic noise and heart attack, the authors believe that the sheer numbers of people affected by noise pollution mean that it is now right to start intensive efforts towards effective prevention of traffic noise.

This original article published in the Deutsches Ärzteblatt International is part of the Europe-wide NORAH (Noise-Related Annoyance, Cognition, and Health) study investigating the health consequences of traffic noise.

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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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