The role of noise as an environmental pollutant and its adverse effects on health are being increasingly recognized. Beyond its direct effects on the auditory system (e.g., hearing loss and tinnitus induced by exposure to high levels of noise), chronic low-level noise exposure causes mental stress associated with known cardiovascular complications. According to recent estimates of the World Health Organization, exposure to traffic noise is responsible for a loss of more than 1.5 million healthy life years per year in Western Europe alone, a major part being related to annoyance, cognitive impairment, and sleep disturbance. Underlying mechanisms of noise-induced mental stress are centered on increased stress hormone levels, blood pressure, and heart rate, which in turn favor the development of cerebrocardiovascular disease such as stroke, arterial hypertension, ischemic heart disease, and myocardial infarction. Furthermore, traffic noise exposure is also associated with mental health symptoms and psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety, which further increase maladaptive coping mechanisms (e.g., alcohol and tobacco use). From a molecular point of view, experimental studies suggest that traffic noise exposure can increase stress hormone levels, thereby triggering inflammatory and oxidative stress pathways by activation of the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase, uncoupling of endothelial/neuronal nitric oxide synthase inducing endothelial and neuronal dysfunction. This review elucidates the mechanisms underlying the relationship between noise exposure and cerebrocardiovascular and psychological disorders, focusing on mental stress signaling pathways including activation of the autonomous nervous system and endocrine signaling and its association with inflammation, oxidative stress, and vascular dysfunction.
Copyright © 2019 Omar Hahad et al.