After researchers compared noise level data against the ratio of hospital admissions and death, they found that living in - or long term exposed to - an area with high traffic noise can increase the risk of a stroke and decrease life expectancy.
AFP reports that the study, which was conducted from 2003 to 2010, was published in European Heart Journal based on information gathered by using the city London and its surrounding areas as a subject, focusing on districts within the M25 motorway that circles the capital.
The research team was led by Jaana Halonen of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and took into account factors such as smoking habits, socio-economic status and ethnicity.
The study found that out of the London’s 8.6 million inhabitants, 1.6 million are regularly exposed to daytime traffic noise levels above 55 decibels, according to AFP.
Their findings were that for places where noise exceeded 60 decibels, there were four percent more deaths in comparison with quieter areas – 55 decibels or below. People living in noisier neighbourhoods were also five percent more likely to be admitted to hospital with a stroke. That likelyhood nearly doubles to nine percent among the elderly.
Also linked to a five percent increase in stroke risk among the elderly was a noisier (55-60 decibel) environment at night.
These findings are in-line with that of The World Health Organization (WHO) that sets 55 decibels as the threshold for which health problems are likely to increase.
Other experts and external oberservers say that the increased health risk was apparent, however small. Examples of other research done in this field corroborate this most recent study’s findings, showing a link between persistently high noise levels to an increase in blood pressure and stress-related illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases.
"Public-health policies must pay more attention to this emerging evidence," told Francesco Cappuccio, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Warwick, to Britain's Science Media Centre.