Jet Noise Alert: How Living Near an Airport Could Skyrocket Your Heart Risk

It’s no secret that living near an airport can be a noisy affair, with planes taking off and landing at all hours of the day and night. However, the loud sounds emanating from your local airport might be harming more than just your ears. Research suggests that being exposed to prolonged airport noise could be putting your heart at risk.

The dangers of airport noise

A comprehensive study of airports in the U.S. and England has shown that people living near airports face a higher risk of various heart problems such as stroke, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease. This increased risk applies to both hospital admissions and mortality rates. It seems that the 2 percent of people who are exposed to the highest levels of daytime and nighttime aircraft noise are the most at risk.

With debates surrounding the expansion of major cities and the capacity of their commercial airports, it’s essential that policy decisions take into account potential health concerns. This includes considering the impact of environmental noise exposure on cardiovascular health.

Why is noise bad for your heart?

It might seem strange that noise can have such a significant impact on your heart health. However, researchers believe that the continuous noise exposure from airports can lead to chronic stress, which in turn, raises your cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone associated with stress, and elevated cortisol levels can result in increased blood pressure and inflammation in blood vessels.

In addition to the chronic stress factor, nighttime aircraft noise can disrupt your sleep. Poor sleep quality has been linked to various heart conditions, including hypertension and heart disease.

Protecting your heart from airport noise

So how can you protect your heart if you live close to an airport and have no plans for relocating? There are several steps you can take to minimize the impact of airport noise on your health:

  1. Soundproof your home: Investing in noise-reducing windows and doors can significantly decrease the amount of noise entering your house from the outside. Additionally, spaces designed with noise reduction in mind can help decrease sound levels. For example, you can place furniture like bookcases and couches against walls to dampen sounds transmitted through the walls. Heavy curtains and rugs also absorb and reduce indoor noise.

  2. Sleep better: If your sleep is being disturbed by aircraft noise, try to create a sleep-friendly environment in your bedroom. You can use blackout curtains to block out any light, and replace your regular bedroom door with a solid core door to minimize noise. Consider using white noise machines or noise-canceling headphones to drown out any remaining noise.

  3. Eat a heart-healthy diet: Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This, in turn, lowers your risk for heart disease and other heart-related problems. Make a conscious effort to eat a heart-healthy diet, which can help to counteract any increased risks from airport noise.

  4. Exercise regularly: Engaging in regular exercise is crucial for overall heart health, as well as for reducing the impact of stress on your body. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, combined with muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days.

  5. Practice stress reduction techniques: Since chronic stress can contribute significantly to heart problems, learning how to manage your stress is essential. Techniques like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises can all help to lower stress and promote relaxation.

The bottom line

Living near an airport might always come with some level of noise exposure, but understanding the risks and taking action to protect your heart can make a big difference to your overall health. By soundproofing your home, promoting better sleep, eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress, you can help ease the impact of airport noise on your heart.