From our health files: What’s bad for your ears might also be bad for your heart. In fact, a new study shows that a noisy workplace can triple your risk of a serious heart problem.
Dr. Martin Halle is a professor at the University of Munich in Germany and he says people working around loud, continuous noise have higher levels of stress hormones and a bigger buildup of plaque in their arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. So, how loud is too loud?
Researchers asked 6,000 workers to rate how noisy their job was and how long they were exposed to it. A workplace was considered “noisy” if people had to raise their voices to have a conversation.
The result: The noisiest jobs and most at-risk workers are welders, mechanics, forklift operators and construction workers. But even nursery school teachers, dentists and classical musicians are at higher risk because their jobs are noisy, too.
In the end, the study showed that people who worked in loud environments for at least a year-and-a-half were 3 times more likely to have chest pain, a heart attack or a stroke than people working in quieter environments.
Dr. Halle says if your workplace is too noisy, wear earplugs. It might seem obvious, but earplugs can reduce ambient noise levels by 20 decibels. And, if you have other risk factors for heart disease, it might be time to change jobs.
Also, if you smoke, quit – because smoking puts you at even higher risk for heart problems – even if you work in a library.