The body is a complex system. Science is only just beginning to unravel how its interconnected pieces work together and affect one another in both positive and negative ways. Not to mention how environmental factors can influence our health and wellness. We hear plenty about stress, nutrition and the gut microbiome, but could noise also play a role? According to new findings, the answer to that question is “yes!” Chronic noise exposure may be impacting your heart health.
Chronic noise exposure and cardiovascular diseases
While much research between heart health and hearing in recent years has focused on hearing loss as an early indicator of cardiovascular problems, some researchers are looking at the relationship from another angle. They are now uncovering a link between chronic noise exposure, which can cause hearing loss, and cardiovascular diseases.
Findings from the Massachusetts General Hospital presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2018 showed that noise exposure could cause an inflammatory cascade in the body ultimately increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. The study included 499 participants, with no cardiovascular disease or cancer. Participants underwent PET and CT scans of both brains and blood vessels to get a baseline for stress-related brain activity and inflammation of the blood vessels. Researchers then estimated the participants’ average noise exposure based on where they lived.
It was what researchers found during the second part of the study, several years later that, is making many sit up and take notice.
Of the original participants, 40 had experienced a heart attack or stroke within five years of the initial testing. Researchers also found there was a direct correlation with levels of noise exposure, stress-related brain activity and inflammation.
The findings may add a new dimension to heart-health recommendations and heart disease prevention.
How to support heart health
Many factors can affect cardiovascular health, and the good news is that many are controllable. These tips can help you protect your heart now and for years to come:
This research certainly highlights the importance of minimizing and managing stress whether it is in the form of chronic noise exposure or poor work/life balance. Turn down the volume whenever possible to prevent hearing loss and create a more peaceful environment. Spend time on hobbies to disconnect. Try meditation to calm the mind and body.
Meet regularly (at least once per year) with your physician to manage your heart and overall health. Regular tests and check-ups can monitor and catch cardiovascular concerns early while helping to prevent more serious issues down the road.
Exercise regularly to keep your cardiovascular system healthy and reduce stress.
Follow a heart-healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
You only have one heart. Protect your hearing, protect your heart by reducing your chronic noise exposure.
If you’d like guidance on improving your heart health, contact your physician. If you’re concerned about chronic noise exposure and how it may be impacting your hearing health or even causing hearing loss, contact our office to schedule a hearing evaluation.