Traffic noise, honking are bad for your heart; can lead to stroke, diabetes

Researchers in Germany have concluded that traffic noise is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, stroke and diabetes.

They found that the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes increases by 3.2% for every 10 dB increase in noise coming from road traffic.

To put that in context, the sound from the horn of a German auto major ranks at 90 dB. For the Indian market, most automobile manufacturers crank up the loudness of the horn by 10-20 dB.

Traffic noise at night can disrupt sleep by increasing cortisol levels, thereby leading to inflammation, high BP and other cardiovascular complications.

Thomas Münzel, senior professor at the University Medical Centre Mainz, Germany, and lead author of the study, said that traffic noise should now be recognized as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease due to the strong evidence.

Erecting noise barriers along busy roads can reduce noise levels by as much as 10 dB; noise-reducing asphalt can lessen levels by 3-6 dB. Limiting driving speed and using low-noise tyres can further mitigate the problem.

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In Indian cities like Mumbai or Bangalore, gridlocked traffic and constant honking, coupled with poor road architecture and upkeep, and driving skills further worsen the problem.

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