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Environ Health Perspect. 2013 May;121(5):607-12. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1205606. Epub 2013 Mar 19.

Individual daytime noise exposure during routine activities and heart rate variability in adults: a repeated measures study.

Author information

1
Institute of Epidemiology II, Helmholtz Zentrum München, Neuherberg, Germany. ute.kraus@helmholtz-muenchen.de

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Epidemiological studies have demonstrated associations between noise exposure and cardiovascular events. However, there have been few studies of possible underlying mechanisms.

OBJECTIVES:

We examined the association between individual daytime noise exposure and heart rate variability (HRV).

METHODS:

In a prospective panel study in Augsburg, Germany (March 2007-December 2008), 110 individuals participated in 326 electrocardiogram recordings with a mean duration of 6 hr. Five-minute averages of heart rate (HR) and HRV parameters were determined. Individual noise exposure was measured as A-weighted equivalent continuous sound pressure levels (L(eq)). Effects were estimated using additive mixed models adjusted for long- and short-term time trends and physical activity. Due to nonlinear exposure-response functions, we performed piecewise linear analyses with a cut-off point at 65 dB(A).

RESULTS:

Concurrent increases of 5 dB(A) in L(eq) < 65 dB(A) were associated with increases in HR (percent change of mean value: 1.48%; 95% CI: 1.37, 1.60%) and the ratio of low-frequency (LF) to high-frequency (HF) power (4.89%; 95% CI: 3.48, 6.32%), and with decreases in LF (-3.77%; 95% CI: -5.49, -2.02%) and HF (-8.56%; 95% CI: -10.31, -6.78%) power. Standard deviation of normal-to-normal intervals (SDNN) was positively associated with concurrent noise < 65 dB(A) (5.74%; 95% CI: 5.13, 6.36) but negatively associated with noise lagged by 5-15 min (-0.53% to -0.69%). Associations with cardiac function were less pronounced for noise ≥ 65 dB(A), with some in opposite directions from associations with noise < 65 dB(A). Concurrent associations were modified by sex and age.

CONCLUSIONS:

Individual daytime noise exposure was associated with immediate changes in HRV, suggesting a possible mechanism linking noise to cardiovascular risk. Noise at lower levels may have health consequences beyond those resulting from "fight-or-flight" responses to high levels of noise.

PMID:
23512292
PMCID:
PMC3672128
DOI:
10.1289/ehp.1205606
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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