There are so many factors that you have to be aware of that make it more likely that you develop heart disease and suffer a heart attack or stroke: your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, diet, exercise, family history, your age… the list goes on and on.
And while some of those things are in your control, others just aren’t.
According to a new study, there is one more risk factor you should know that can lead to long-term changes in your blood vessels and increase your chances of both heart attacks and strokes. And luckily it’s one you can change.
Threefold risk of heart attack and stroke
This might seem like a weird question, but what do you think a heart attack sounds like?
Sound, no doubt, affects the human body. That’s nothing new…
White noise can block out distractions, whether you need to do that to fall asleep or to concentrate on something.
Pink noise helps you achieve that deep sleep that comes during the REM stage. Recent studies have found it can even improve the health of your brain.
But what about not-so-nice noise… like what you’d hear if you lived next to a busy highway or near the airport?
Well, a study performed by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and presented in Chicago at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2018, found that kind of chronic noise exposure dramatically increases your heart attack and stroke risk.
Researchers analyzed the association between noise exposure and major cardiovascular events by studying 499 people with an average age 56 years over a period of five years.
All of the participants were considered healthy and free of heart disease when the study began and had PET and CT scan imaging of their brains and blood vessels to assess blood vessel health and the activity of the amygdala — an area of the brain that’s involved in stress regulation and emotional responses.
The researchers gauged each participant’s noise exposure using their home addresses and noise level estimates from the Department of Transportation’s Aviation and Highway Noise Map.
They found that people with the highest levels of noise exposure had higher levels of amygdalar activity and more inflammation in their arteries.
According to the scientists, those high levels of amygdala activity in response to the noise appear to unleash a pathway that drives blood vessel inflammation, a well-known risk factor for heart disease.
In fact, noise exposure led to a greater than threefold risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke and other major cardiovascular events compared with people who had lower levels of noise exposure.
That’s pretty scary…
If you live or work near a highway, airport or other source of noise, your risk of a heart attack or stroke goes up by three times from just that one factor.
The researchers even went so far as to say that when you and your doctor assess your cardiovascular risk, you should consider your noise exposure and take steps to reduce it.
Reducing blood vessel inflammation
In addition to lowering your ongoing exposure to noise, it’s also important to take steps to reduce the inflammation in your blood vessels that has already occurred by optimizing the health of your heart and blood vessels.
To do this:
#1 — Exercise
Harvard’s Healthbeat calls exercise and physical activity, “The closest things you have to magic bullets against heart disease.”
Aim for at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity.
#2 — Maintain a healthy weight
Just a 5 to 10 percent reduction in your weight can result in positive changes in your blood pressure and help stave off heart attacks and strokes.
#3 — Manage stress
As the study on chronic noise showed, stress results in long-term changes to your blood vessels that lead to heart disease. Use your mind-body connection to practice inner calm through yoga, meditation and deep breathing exercises.
#4 — Supplement your diet
Key supplements for supporting blood vessel health include resveratrol, calcium disodium EDTA, vitamins B6 and B12, folate, malic acid, trimethylglycine and garlic powder. Together these boost chelation, decrease inflammation and promote healthy blood flow.
Chronic noise and the blood vessel inflammation that comes with it is a clear and present danger to your heart health. Take steps now to reduce your noise exposure and lower your inflammation levels to avoid the dangers of a heart attack or stroke.