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Could Living Near an Airport Be Affecting Your Heart Health?

November 27, 2013

Living within earshot of an airport can be quite convenient for travel needs, but a new study suggests the proximity of planes could pose health problems for the elderly—specifically cardiovascular problems.

airports and heart healthIf this sounds a little farfetched, don’t worry. Researchers aren’t convinced yet either, but the correlation is significant enough to raise concerns. Professors from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Boston University School of Public Health analyzed 2,218 zip codes in proximity to 89 airports spread throughout the United States. All subjects in the study were over 65 years old and controls were put in place to account for demographics, air pollution, and socioeconomic status.

The results of the study showed that participants who lived close enough to an airport to experience noise levels 10 decibels higher than average were 3.5% more likely to be hospitalized for cardiovascular issues.

Now, if you’re over 65 and living near an airport, don’t panic just yet. Researchers admitted that, with how prevalent cardiovascular problems are, it can be difficult to know the exact cause, even with well-established controls. Yet, the study was commissioned by The Partnership for Air Transportation Noise and Emission Reduction, and probably shouldn’t be ignored entirely.

The following suggestions were made in a press release as interventions that might be helpful to the problem:

  • Improved aircraft technology
  • Optimized flight paths
  • Avoid using runways near residential areas during sleeping hours
  • Soundproofing homes and other buildings

Since these are all logistical solutions that take time for implementation, we recommend focusing on the aspects of your heart health you can control: a healthy diet, an exercise routine, and regular check-ups with your doctor. While being aware of risk factors is always a good thing, unnecessary panic is not.

What do you think of the researchers’ findings? Do you believe airplane noise could be a contributing factor to heart health problems? 

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photo credit: caribb