Traffic noise, trains and planes could lead to heart disease

NORFOLK, Va.- Could living in Hampton Roads be killing you?

New research says that noise from planes, trains and automobiles may increase your risk of heart disease.

February is Heart Disease Month.

“As you may recall, heart disease is the number two killer of people in our state it is the number one killer of people worldwide," said cardiologist Dr. Shon Chakarbarti. "Stroke is the number four killer of Virginians, so it is still the most paramount problem in our state. Heart disease kills more women than all four cancers combined."

Do you know all the factors that put you at risk?

“Anything that would cause heart disease?” News 3's Brheanna Berry asked one Norfolk resident.

“Eating a lot of food, really fatty foods,” he guessed.

“Something that causes heart disease, any ideas?” Berry asked another.

“Uh, cigarettes,” another participant replied.

It’s true - there are commonly known factors that put us at risk for heart disease.

What’s shocking is traffic noise, planes and trains are just as deadly to our heart as being obese or smoking.

“Our blood vessels in our body are a living organ and they are filled with these cells called endothelia cells. Endothelia cells react to these stress hormones we have been talking about and they are responsible for things like high blood pressure and heart attack,” Chakrabar said.

What’s even scarier is noise at 70 decibels is where we reach the danger zone.

A typical conversation reaches about 60 decibels.

Traffic noise and a plane taking off - that’s all the way at 120 decibels.

Chakrabarti says traffic-related noise causes a stress response, which increases hormone levels, and that can lead to hypertension and diabetes.

So how can you help protect yourself when you can’t avoid things like traffic?

Chakrabarti says protect yourself when you can.

“When you lay in bed at night you don’t need to have the TV on loud. You don’t need your headphones plugged into your iPad until 12 or 1 in the morning when you have to work the next day because your brain is supposed to be resting. It’s not supposed to be exposed to those noises,” Chakrabarti said.