Traffic is bad for your heart’s health – study

Science and Health

The sound of traffic can elevate your risk of hypertension, a new study has found. 

A new peer-reviewed study, published in the journal JACC: Advances, analyzed over 240,000 participants and concluded that the sound of traffic can cause hypertension.

Older studies have proven a causational relationship between the sounds of traffic and high blood pressure. However, the older studies did not evaluate if it was the sound of the traffic or the increased air pollution that caused the spiked blood pressure.

“Road traffic noise and traffic-related air pollution coexist around us. It is essential to explore the independent effects of road traffic noise, rather than the total environment,” lead study author Jing Huang said to HealthDay.

“Because areas that are noisy tend to have a high level of air pollution as well, one question that arises is whether each are independently contributing to risk and this was indeed the case. Living in noisy and polluted zones amplified the risk of hypertension,” senior author Kazem Rahimi, a professor of cardiovascular medicine and population health at the University of Oxford, told CNN.

A MONITOR displays a human heart in 3D, at the Klaus Tschira Institute for Integrative Computational Cardiology, Germany’s Heidelberg University Hospital. (credit: RALPH ORLOWSKI/REUTERS)

What type of data came from this study?

Researchers collected data from participants aged 40-69-years-old, who did not have hypertension at the start.

Of the 240,000 participants, 21,140 participants developed incidents of primary hypertension. This showed a link between the condition and the sound of road traffic. 

“The data demonstrated in this article provides a higher quality of evidence to justify the potential to modify road traffic noise and air pollution from both individual and societal levels in improving cardiovascular health,” the cardiology fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in a press release.  

Scientists added that incidence rates of hypertension increased when air pollution was present in high levels.

“We were a little surprised that the association between road traffic noise and hypertension was robust even after adjustment for air pollution,” Huang said to HealthDay.

Why is this study important?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) “[h]ypertension (high blood pressure) is when the pressure in your blood vessels is too high (140/90 mmHg or higher). It is common but can be serious if not treated.”

Hypertension impacts 50% of Americans aged over 20, according to

According to the WHO, untreated hypertension can lead to a myriad of conditions like Angina, heart attacks, heart failure, irregular heartbeat and sudden death.