Residential exposure to aircraft noise and hospital admissions for cardiovascular diseases: multi-airport retrospective study.


Objective To investigate whether exposure to aircraft noise increases the risk of hospitalization for cardiovascular diseases in older people (≥65 years) residing near airports.

Design Multi-airport retrospective study of approximately 6 million older people residing near airports in the United States. We superimposed contours of aircraft noise levels (in decibels, dB) for 89 airports for 2009 provided by the US Federal Aviation Administration on census block resolution population data to construct two exposure metrics applicable to zip code resolution health insurance data: population weighted noise within each zip code, and 90th centile of noise among populated census blocks within each zip code.

Setting 2218 zip codes surrounding 89 airports in the contiguous states.

Participants 6 027 363 people eligible to participate in the national medical insurance (Medicare) program (aged ≥65 years) residing near airports in 2009.

Main outcome measures Percentage increase in the hospitalization admission rate for cardiovascular disease associated with a 10 dB increase in aircraft noise, for each airport and on average across airports adjusted by individual level characteristics (age, sex, race), zip code level socioeconomic status and demographics, zip code level air pollution (fine particulate matter and ozone), and roadway density.

Results Averaged across all airports and using the 90th centile noise exposure metric, a zip code with 10 dB higher noise exposure had a 3.5% higher (95% confidence interval 0.2% to 7.0%) cardiovascular hospital admission rate, after controlling for covariates.

Conclusions Despite limitations related to potential misclassification of exposure, we found a statistically significant association between exposure to aircraft noise and risk of hospitalization for cardiovascular diseases among older people living near airports.

What is already known on this topic

·         Noise has been associated with hypertension, myocardial infarction, and ischemic heart disease

·         Aircraft noise in particular has been associated with several hypertension outcomes

·         Few studies, however, have investigated the relation of aircraft noise to cardiovascular disease, in part because studies surrounding a small number of airports are not typically adequately powered

What this study adds

·         Long term exposure to aircraft noise is positively associated with hospitalization for cardiovascular disease

·         The association between aircraft noise and hospitalization for cardiovascular disease is not confounded by air pollution, road density, or area level socioeconomic status

·         There may be a threshold for the association between aircraft noise and hospitalization for cardiovascular disease

·         Source:BMJ