People living near busy roads are at significantly higher risk of having raised blood pressure, researchers have found.Traffic fumes and noise both increase a person’s risk of what doctors call hypertension – which in turn raises the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
The world’s biggest ever study into the health impact of air and noise pollution found that people living in the most polluted areas were more than a fifth more likely to develop high blood pressure.
Researchers in five countries tracked 41,000 people for nine years.They found that the extra risk of daily exposure to pollution for a healthy slim person had the equivalent negative health impact as if they had simply been overweight.
The study, conducted in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Spain, involved people who did not have high blood pressure when they joined the programme.
After nine years those exposed to the highest air pollution were 22 per cent more likely to have developed high blood pressure than those who lived in the areas of lowest air pollution.
And those in the noisiest streets – with an average night-time noise of 50 decibels – were six per cent more likely to develop the condition than those in the quietest, where the average noise levels were 40 decibels at night.
Lead author Professor Barbara Hoffmann, an environmental epidemiologist at Heinrich-Heine-University of Dusseldorf, Germany, said: “Our findings show that long-term exposure to particulate air pollution is associated with a higher incidence of self-reported hypertension and with intake of anti-hypertensive medication.
“As virtually everybody is exposed to air pollution for all of their lives, this leads to a high number of hypertension cases, posing a great burden on the individual and on society.
“Exposure to traffic noise shares many of the same sources with air pollution.’“Given the ubiquitous presence of air pollution and the importance of hypertension as the most important risk factor for cardiovascular disease, these results have important public health consequences and call for more stringent air quality regulations.”
*Adapted from DailyMailUK Online