Living on a main road could give you a stroke

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Living near a road with a high level of traffic noise could increase your chance of having a stroke, a study has found.

For every 10 decibel increase in noise, the risk of a stroke in the over-65 age group increases by a quarter, while researchers said that when the noise went about 60 decibels the risk got higher still.

The Danish scientists, who published their work in the European Heart Journal today, said that they had accounted for other external factors, such as air pollution and a difference in lifestyle, meaning they thought there was a genuine link between traffic noise and stroke risk.

"Our study shows that exposure to road traffic noise seems to increase the risk of stroke," said Dr Mette Sørensen, senior researcher at the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen, Denmark.

"Previous studies have linked traffic noise with raised blood pressure and heart attacks, and our study adds to the accumulating evidence that traffic noise may cause a range of cardiovascular diseases."

The study focussed on 51,485 volunteers in Denmark for a period of 10 years. All participants were aged between 50 and 64 years old, and a total of 1,881 had a stroke. They were estimated to have been exposed to noise levels between 40 and 82 decibels.

Dr Sørensen said about one in five strokes in urban areas could be due to living in noisy homes, and most were likely to be down to people suffering disturbed sleep patterns and related raised blood pressure and stress levels.

He said: "If we assume that our findings represent the true risk, and the association between traffic noise and stroke is causal, then an estimated eight percent of all stroke cases, and 19 per cent of cases in those aged over 65, could be attributed to road traffic noise."