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Protect Your Heart from Noise Stress

Protect Your Heart from Noise Stress

Do you spend your weekends playing with loud toys like snowmobiles and power saws? Invest a few dollars in a box of disposable foam ear plugs. Do you work in a factory, an engine-repair shop, or an airport where ear-protecting headsets are practically part of the dress code? Wear 'em. Not only will it save your hearing (eh?), it could save your heart.

High-decibel noise more than doubles your odds for ticker troubles. People who live near an airport get blood pressure spikes whenever a plane flies overhead at night. Roaring traffic has a similar effect. On the job, constant noise boosts stress hormones and makes your arteries tighten, increasing your risk for chest pain, heart attack, heart disease, and high blood pressure, according to a recent study. You're especially vulnerable if you are under 50, you are male, or you smoke. 

High-rated foam plugs work just as well as protective headsets if you're only dealing with occasional bursts of noise, and you won't look like a bush pilot bringing in your plane for a landing. Buy foam plugs with a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 33; they'll block out about 15 decibels of noise, on par with headsets.

How about a cranked-up MP3 player (you knew this was coming)? Although no one has studied how these gizmos affect your heart, an MP3 player can pump out tunes at 105 decibels or more. That's on par with a jackhammer. So turn it down; it should never be louder than 70% if you listen for up to 6 hours a day. You can still rock out to Katie Perry at nonrunway volumes. So can the kids.

Medically reviewed in April 2019.

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