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Noise at work bad for your heart

Noise at work significantly ‘heightens heart risk’ and makes you weigh and smoke more, study finds.


Working in a consistently noisy environment such as a factory more than doubles the risk of serious heart problems, research suggests.
In the under-50s, the risk increases to fourfold, the study warns, and young male smokers are also particularly affected by noise. The U.S. team studied more than 6,000 employees over a five-year period, dividing them into those who endured persistent loud noise at work for at least three months and those who did not.
Deadly combination: Working in a constantly noisy environment can double the risk of serious heart problems, a new study has found. It also found that those who work in noisy environments are more likely to smoke. They found those in noisy environments tended to weigh and smoke more than those who worked in quiet offices, reports the British Medical Journal. Among workers under 50 the link with noise was particularly strong. They were between three and four times as likely to have angina or coronary artery disease or to have had a heart attack.
The authors say: ‘Loud noise day after day may be as strong an external stressor as sudden strong emotion or physical exertion, the effect of which is to prompt various chemical messengers to constrict blood flow through the coronary arteries. ‘This study suggests that excess noise exposure in the workplace is an important occupational health issue.’ June Davison of the British Heart Foundation said: ‘Some people find sustained noise very taxing and stressful and that could explain this link between noisy workplaces and an increased risk of heart disease. ‘If you’re stressed you are more likely to snack on unhealthy foods, smoke and miss out on your 30 minutes of physical activity a day – a sure-fire recipe for an unhealthy heart. ‘For people who already have heart disease, occasionally stress can trigger chest pains or even a heart attack.’
Lead researcher: Dr. Wen Qi Gan
School of Environmental Health at the University of Britisch Columbia in Vancouver.
Publication: Oct.6 2010; online edition of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
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