Protecting Your Ears Can Also Safeguard Your Heart

Protecting Your Ears Can Also Safeguard Your Heart

Loud noises have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Find out how to protect your ears and heart.

Loud noise (above 60 decibels, the volume of a normal conversation) is dangerous—and it doesn’t have to be a volcanic explosion to trigger health problems. Exposure to elevated decibels can:

  • Erode your hearing.
  • Interfere with sleep and disrupt your endocrine, metabolic and immune systems.
  • Damage your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and heart failure.

A review in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology provides insight into why the noise-heart damage links exist.

Loud noises cause stress, and chronic exposure to stress hormones boosts blood pressure and damages blood vessels. Plus, one study found that blood vessels’ so-called “calcification burden” increases by almost four percent with every five-decibel increase in nighttime traffic noise. This increases the risk of atherosclerosis and arterial stiffening. Loud, persistent noise also affects the autonomic nervous system that regulates organ system functions. Maybe excessive noise all over the country is why we have so much heart disease.

So, if you live in a noisy environment:

  • Use sound-dampening earplugs at night.
  • Install sound-blocking shades and drapes.
  • Rely on noise-cancelling headphones (not while crossing the street!).
  • Turn down your earbuds. Canceling out exterior sound with music piped directly into your eardrum doesn’t help keep you calm or healthy.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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