HealthDay News — Aircraft noise is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular-related hospital admission, according to two studies in BMJ.

In one study involving people aged 65 years and older, who lived near one of 89 U.S. airports, residing in a zip code with a 10-decibel (dB) increase in aircraft noise exposure was associated with a 3.4% (95% CI 0.3%-6.7%) higher rate of cardiovascular hospitalization, according to Francesca Dominici, PhD, of the Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues. 

In a second study involving people who lived near Heathrow airport in London, hospital admissions for stroke, coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease increased in a linear fashion with daytime and nighttime aircraft noise (P<0.05 for all), Anna L. Hansell, PhD, MB, BCh, from Imperial College London, and colleagues reported.

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“The results imply that the siting of airports and consequent exposure to aircraft noise may have direct effects on the health of the surrounding population,” Stephen Stansfeld, MBBS, PhD, of Queen Mary University in London wrote in an accompanying editorial.  “Planners need to take this into account when expanding airports in heavily populated areas or planning new airports.”

Although previous studies have associated aircraft noise with a wide array of health issues, including disturbed sleep, sleep-disordered breathing, nervousness, annoyance and hypertension, few have examined it’s affect on cardiovascular health effects.

So Dominici and colleagues conducted a multi-airport retrospective study involving about six million Medicare beneficiaries who lived near U.S. airports. They analyzed data on aircraft noise from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, as well as on cardiovascular hospitalizations for conditions including, heart failure, heart rhythm disturbances, cerebrovascular events, ischemic heart disease and peripheral vascular disease.

The relationship between increased aircraft noise and cardiovascular hospitalization was significant even after controlling for covariates including age, sex, race, zip code-level socioeconomic status and demographics, air pollution and roadway density.

Overall, 2.3% of cardiovascular hospitalizations were attributable to aircraft noised, compared with 6.8% attributable to fine particulate matter and 4.2% to ozone.

The study by Hansell et al had similar outcomes. It involved 3.6 million people living in 12 London boroughs and nine districts west of Heathrow airport.

Between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., people exposed to the highest versus lowest levels of aircraft noise had greater risk for hospitalization for stroke, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease (relative risk, 1.24, 1.21, and 1.14, respectively), after adjustment. Findings were similar for nighttime noise. The association remained significant after adjusting for air pollution and road traffic.

“These studies provide preliminary evidence that aircraft noise exposure is not just a cause of annoyance, sleep disturbance, and reduced quality of life but may also increase morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease,” Stansfeld wrote.


  1. Correia A et al. BMJ. 2013; 347: f5561.
  2. Hansell A et al. BMJ. 2013; 347: f5432.
  3. Stansfeld S. BMJ. 2013; 347: f5752.