Münzel, T. et al. Cardiovascular Effects of Environmental Noise Exposure

European Heart Journal (2014) 35, 829–836

The role of noise as an environmental pollutant and its impact on health are being increasingly recognized. Beyond its effects on the auditory system, noise causes annoyance and disturbs sleep, and it impairs cognitive performance. Furthermore, evidence from epidemiologic studies demonstrates that environmental noise is associated with an increased incidence of arterial hypertension, myocardial infarction, and stroke.

Both observational and experimental studies indicate that in particular night-time noise can cause disruptions of sleep structure, vegetative arousals (e.g. increases of blood pressure and heart rate) and increases in stress hormone levels and oxidative stress, which in turn may result in endothelial dysfunction and arterial hypertension. This review focuses on the cardiovascular consequences of environmental noise exposure and stresses the importance of noise mitigation strategies for public health.


The Nobel Prize Winner Robert Koch predicted in 1910 that ‘One day man will have to fight noise as fiercely as cholera and pest’. Acutely, noise interferes with communication, disturbs sleep, and causes annoyance. At the same equivalent noise level, annoyance and self reported sleep disturbance are usually highest for aircraft noise, and higher for road compared with rail traffic noise (Figure 1).

Further, long-term exposure to relevant noise levels has been shown to be associated with negative health outcomes. Importantly, an impact on cardiovascular and autonomic homeostasis has been shown, even for noise levels that are quite commonly observed in urbanized regions …

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