Working in a persistently noisy workplace can more than double a person’s risk of heart disease, latest research has suggested.
A study in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine has also argued that young, male smokers look particularly at risk.
The research, by a team at the School of Environmental Health at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, was based on a study of more than 6,000 employees, aged from 20 upwards, in the US between 1999 and 2004. They were questioned about their lifestyle and occupational health, medical examinations and blood tests.
Participants were grouped into those who endured persistent loud noise at work, to the extent that it was difficult to talk at normal volume – for at least three months – and those who did not.
One in five workers said they put up with a noisy workplace for an average of almost nine consecutive months. Most of these workers were men with an average age of 40. They also tended to weigh and smoke more – both of which are risk factors for heart disease – than those whose workplaces were quiet.
Workers in persistently noisy workplaces were between two to three times as likely to have serious heart problems as their peers in quiet workplaces.
This association was particularly strong among workers aged under 50, who were between three and four times as likely to have angina or coronary artery disease or to have had a heart attack. Men and smokers in this age group were also at greater risk.
“This study suggests that excess noise exposure in the workplace is an important occupational health issue and deserves special attention,” the study concluded.