Noise Affects Blood Pressure

hh-20.jpgWhile excess weight, atherosclerosis, and your diet are all known to affect blood pressure (BP), a new factor has been found that affects our mental and physical health — noise.

One of the major risk factors for heart disease has always been hypertension (having high blood pressure). It affects millions of people over fifty. A recent study brought up a surprising fact — chronic exposure to noise can significantly raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

What’s that you say? “I can’t hear you over the traffic, or that airplane overhead! Maybe it’s the ambient noise in the factory, or the loud music blaring from my earphones hour after hour!”

It appears that it doesn’t matter what the source of the noise is, or even if you’re awake or asleep at the time. It can even be the loud snoring of a spouse beside you all night. Continuous exposure to loud sounds of any variety eventually leads to chronic elevations of BP, making you more prone to suffering a heart attack or stroke. We never get used to loud sounds and our bodies silently react every time.

Younger people (25-44 years old) are affected by noise exposure even more than older folks. Their BP is raised a few points by louder sounds, but their heart rates are elevated an average of 27 beats per minute at higher noise levels. This has both an acute and a long lasting negative affect on cardiovascular function.

What can you do?

Seek out peace and quiet whenever possible. Don’t live at the end of an airport runway. Use noise-canceling headphones at work if necessary. Wear earplugs during the night if your spouse is a loud snorer. And turn down the loud music!

In addition to seeking quiet you can also take other steps to offset the effects of elevated BP:

  • Weight management. Excess weight causes stress on your heart. Every pound lost helps to lower your BP.
  • Exercise. Doing some type of activity that increases heart rate to the point that breathing is labored will strengthen your cardiovascular system.
  • Vitamins and supplements. Improving your diet is good, but specific nutrients can help your heart and blood vessels stay healthier. Taking fish oils for their omega-3 fats is a good start. Supplementing with vitamin E (400-600 IU), vitamin C (>1,000 mg), folate (400-800 mg) and Pycnogenol (derived from pine bark) may also help decrease hypertension.

We are each responsible for our own health and wellness. No one can do it for us. Keeping our weight under control, moving daily and taking supplements go hand in hand with living in a peaceful, calm and quiet environment to maintain our heart health.

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