Background: Several studies point to an elevated risk for cardiovascular diseases induced by traffic noise.
Aims: We examined the association between aircraft, road traffic and railway noise and heart failure or hypertensive heart disease (HHD) in a large case-control study.
Methods: The study population consisted of individuals that were insured by three large statutory health insurance funds in the Rhine-Main area of Germany. Based on insurance claims and prescription data, 104,145 cases of heart failure or HHD diagnosed 2006-10 were identified and compared with 654,172 control subjects. Address-specific exposure to aircraft, road and railway traffic noise in 2005 was estimated. Odds Ratios were calculated using logistic regression analysis, adjusted for age, sex, local proportion of persons receiving unemployment benefits, and individual socioeconomic status (available for 39% of the individuals).
Results: A statistically significant linear exposure-risk relationship with heart failure or hypertensive heart disease was found for aircraft traffic noise (1.6% risk increase per 10dB increase in the 24-h continuous noise level; 95% CI 0.3-3.0%), road traffic noise (2.4% per 10dB; 95% CI 1.6-3.2%), and railway noise (3.1% per 10dB; 95% CI 2.2-4.1%). For individuals with 24-h continuous aircraft noise levels <40dB and nightly maximum aircraft noise levels exceeding 50dB six or more times, a significantly increased risk was observed. In general, risks of HHD were considerably higher than the risks of heart failure.
Conclusions: Regarding the high prevalence of traffic noise from various sources, even low risk increases for frequent diseases are relevant for the population as a whole.
Keywords: Aircraft noise; Case-control study; Heart failure; Hypertensive heart disease; Railway noise; Road traffic noise.
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