Street noise is nothing new, but modern day science has learned something new about the clamor of traffic: it increases stroke risk for older adults. This new evidence may offer pause to physical therapists and other healthcare professionals to ask themselves about the environments their elderly patients call “home.”

According to a report published in the Express, and findings that appear in the European Heart Journal, a link exists between an individual’s long-term exposure to road traffic noise and death, in addition to an increased risk of stroke. The reports indicate the hazardous effects of traffic noise pose a particular threat to older adults.

The study findings were collected by a London-based research team that included authors from three of the city’s universities, and led by Dr Jaana Halonen, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

The study focused on data for 8.6 million people living in London between 2003 and 2010. They studied levels of road traffic noise during the day (7am-11pm) and at night (11pm-7am). Study data was compared with deaths and hospital admissions for adults ages 25 to 74 years, and older adults age 75 years and older.

Deaths reportedly were 4% more common among adults and the elderly in areas with daytime road traffic noise of more than 60 decibels compared with areas with less than 55 decibels.

The researchers say the deaths are most likely to be linked to heart or cardiovascular disease. This phenomenon, they note, could be attributed to increased blood pressure, sleep problems and stress as a result of the noise.

“Road traffic noise has previously been associated with sleep problems and increased blood pressure, but our study is the first in the UK to show a link with deaths and strokes,” Halonen states in the Express article.

Furthermore, the researchers note, the results of their study parallel a significant body of research in which hypertension—the leading cause of stroke—is associated with traffic noise.

[Source: Express]