Another study, this one from Switzerland, shows exposure to aircraft noise during sleep can trigger heart attacks

A study carried out by Swiss researchers looked at 24,886 deaths from cardiovascular disease from 2000–2015, in people living near Zurich Airport. They looked at the deaths in relation to night-time aircraft noise exposure. They found that those exposed to 40–50 decibels noise had a significantly higher risk (about 33%) of heart attacks in the few hours after the noise.  The risk was higher for noise above 55 decibels – about 44%.  For those susceptible, the effect of planes passing overhead can lead to death within 2 hours of the noise.  The Zurich study found aircraft noise contributed to about 800 out of 25,000 cardiovascular deaths that occurred between 2000 and 2015 in the vicinity of Zurich airport, which was 3%.  The study used a so-called ‘case-crossover’ model to determine whether the subject’s noise exposure around their time of death was unusually high in comparison to sounds levels they experienced at other, randomly-selected times. Previous research for the European Environment Agency estimated that noise exposure road, rail, aircraft, industry) causes 12,000 premature deaths and contributes to 48,000 new cases of ischemic heart disease per year across Europe. 


Sound of an aeroplane flying overhead at night could be last thing you hear as study finds the noise can trigger a heart attack within two hours

By Ian Randall   (For Mailonline)
22 Dec 2020

  • Experts studied 24,886 deaths from cardiovascular disease from 2000–2015
  • All the cases the team considered were located in the vicinity of Zurich Airport
  • They analysed the deaths in comparison with night-time aircraft noise pollution
  • Those exposed to 40–50 decibels noise had a third higher risk of heart failure

Living under a busy flight path could have drawbacks beyond lowering your property value — it could increase your risk of dying from a heart attack, experts have warned.

Researchers from Switzerland analysed thousands of deaths from cardiovascular disease in the area around Zurich airport from 2000–2015.

They found people exposed to night-time noises in the order of 40–50 decibels — similar to the thrum of a fridge — were a third more likely to have heart failure.

For those susceptible, the effect of planes passing overhead can — just like episodes of intense emotion — lead to death within just two hours, the researchers said.

‘We found that aircraft noise contributed to about 800 out of 25,000 cardiovascular deaths that occurred between 2000 and 2015 in the vicinity of Zurich airport,’ said epidemiologist Martin Röösli at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

‘This represents 3% of all observed cardiovascular deaths.’

Previous research found that noise pollution is responsible for around 48,000 cases of ischemic (or coronary) heart disease across Europe every year.

In their study, Dr Röösli and colleagues analysed data on 24,886 cardiovascular disease deaths that occurred in the vicinity of Zürich Airport from 2000–2015.

They used a so-called ‘case-crossover’ model to determine whether the subject’s noise exposure around their time of death was unusually high in comparison to sounds levels they experienced at other, randomly-selected times.

To do this, the model combined a record of all aircraft movements in and out of Zurich Airport during the 15-year study period with pre-existing calculations of the noise exposure from different aircraft, travelling on given routes at different times.

‘This study design is very useful to study acute effects of noise exposure with high day-to-day variability — such as for airplane noise, given changing weather conditions or flight delays,’ said paper author and epidemiologist Apolline Saucy.

‘With this temporal analysis approach, we can isolate the effect of unusually high or low levels of noise on mortality from other factors.’

‘Lifestyle characteristics such as smoking or diet cannot be a bias in this study design,’ she added.

The team’s model suggested that the risk of cardiovascular death increases by 33% for those individuals exposed to night-time noise in the order of 40–50 decibels — equivalent to the sound of a refrigerator in operation.

People exposed to night-time noise above 55 decibels — near the volume of normal conversation — had a 44% increase in their risk of cardiovascular death.

For comparison, being subjected to noises over 85 decibels — such as hairdryers, blenders and power tools — continuously for more than 30 minutes can lead to permanent hearing loss.


See also:


2020 May; 17(9): 3011.
Published online 2020 Apr 26. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17093011
PMCID: PMC7246478    PMID: 32357482

Individual Aircraft Noise Exposure Assessment for a Case-Crossover Study in Switzerland 


Accurate exposure assessment is essential in environmental epidemiological studies. This is especially true for aircraft noise, which is characterized by a high spatial and temporal variation. We propose a method to assess individual aircraft noise exposure for a case-crossover study investigating the acute effects of aircraft noise on cardiovascular deaths. We identified all cases of cardiovascular death (24,886) occurring near Zürich airport, Switzerland, over fifteen years from the Swiss National Cohort. Outdoor noise exposure at the home address was calculated for the night preceding death and control nights using flight operations information from Zürich airport and noise footprints calculated for major aircraft types and air routes. We estimated three different noise metrics: mean sound pressure level (LAeq), maximum sound pressure level (LAmax), and number above threshold 55 dB (NAT55) for different nighttime windows. Average nighttime aircraft noise levels were 45.2 dB, 64.6 dB, and 18.5 for LAeq, LAmax, and NAT55 respectively. In this paper, we present a method to estimate individual aircraft noise exposure with high spatio-temporal resolution and a flexible choice of exposure events and metrics. This exposure assessment will be used in a case-crossover study investigating the acute effects of noise on health.

…. then the long study details ….

5. Conclusions

We present a method to assess individual aircraft noise exposures with high temporal and spatial resolution. This method, especially designed to support a case-crossover study, represents a novel framework to investigate the short-term effects of aircraft noise on mortality. We propose to apply this approach to retrospective data and this paper may, therefore, serve as an exposure assessment method in large, long-term cohort settings. Due to its differences towards other study designs in terms of possible bias and confounding, this approach may complement previous research and bring meaningful insights in our general understanding of the acute physiological effects of noise.

and see whole study at


See also:

Noise pollution in Europe

10 March 2020

Article: 54/1005

According to a new report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA), road traffic is the top source of noise pollution in Europe, with rail, aircraft and industry the other main sources of environmental noise pollution.

The report provides an update of noise pollution trends over the 2012-2017 period. Additionally, the report estimates future noise projections as well as the associated health impacts in Europe, based on new World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on the health effects from exposure to noise. Building on the previous EEA assessment of noise in Europe from 2014, the report also looks at actions  taken to manage and reduce noise exposure and reviews progress made to meet EU objectives on noise pollution.

Long-term exposure to noise has significant health impacts. On the basis of the new WHO information, the EEA estimates that such exposure causes 12,000 premature deaths and contributes to 48,000 new cases of ischemic heart disease per year across Europe. It is also estimated that 22 million people suffer chronic high annoyance and 6.5 million people suffer chronic high sleep disturbance.

Source: EEA, 5 March 2020,disease%20per%20year%20across%20Europe


See earlier:


Living near to a busy road or airport TRIPLES your risk of a heart attack and stroke because the noise triggers a harmful response in the body

More evidence – now from Massachusetts General hospital – is showing that living near to a noisy road or a busy flight path significantly increases risk of a heart attack or stroke. The added risk is in addition to risks of smoking and diabetes. It is thought that exposure to environmental noise alters the amygdala – a brain region involved in stress regulation and emotional responses.  This then promotes blood vessel inflammation, which can lead to cardiovascular problems. Those exposed to chronic noise, such as near an airport, showed  and a greater than three-fold risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke and other major cardiovascular event. People with the highest levels of noise exposure had higher levels of amygdala activity and more inflammation in their arteries. The study looked at 499 people, with an average age of 56 years old. None had cardiovascular illness or cancer. They all underwent simultaneous PET and CT scans of their brain and blood vessels. To gauge noise exposure, the researchers used participants’ home addresses government noise maps. The researchers say more research is needed to determine whether reduction in noise exposure could meaningfully lower cardiovascular risk and reduce the number of cardiovascular events on a population-wide scale.


Polish study of effects of aircraft noise shows increased hypertension and cardiovascular impacts

A study carried out in Krakow, Poland, has found that long term exposure to aircraft noise is associated with hypertension and organ damage. The study included 201 randomly selected adults aged 40 to 66 years who had lived for more than three years in an area with high or low aircraft noise. Of these, 101 were exposed to more than 60 decibels (dB) of aircraft noise on average and 100 were exposed to less than 55 dB and acted as a control group. The researchers matched the groups in pairs by gender, age, and amount of time living in the area. All participants had their blood pressure measured. Asymptomatic organ damage was assessed by measuring stiffness of the aorta and the mass and function of the left ventricle. They found that the group who lived in an area of high aircraft noise had more hypertension than those who lived in a low aircraft noise area (40% versus 24%). They also had higher systolic (146 versus 138 mmHg) and diastolic (89 versus 79 mmHg) blood pressure than the control group. The researchers say “There is emerging data to suggest that exposure to aircraft noise may increase the risk of hypertension, particularly at night, and of hospitalisation for cardiovascular diseases – but more evidence is needed.” Also that noise should be kept down, by “redirecting flight paths, keeping airports away from homes, and avoiding night flights.”


Professor Stansfeld on how noise pollution, including aircraft noise, can damage health

Stephen Stansfeld is a Professor of Psychiatry at Queen Mary University of London, who has done a lot of work the health impacts of noise, including aircraft noise. He comments that as well as physical (cardiovascular) illness, there can be significant emotional response to noise pollution, including negative feelings noise can create such as disturbance, irritation, dissatisfaction and nuisance, as well as a feeling of having one’s privacy invaded. But annoyance can vary widely between different people. Noise can have different impacts depending on how much it interferes with your activities, the fear you feel associated with the source of the noise, your coping mechanisms and even your belief about whether the noise is preventable. “For example, you’re likely to feel more annoyance to aircraft flying overhead if you feel the airport is taking no measures to regulate the noise.” He also says that the evidence suggests mental ill-health may increase the risk of annoyance by noise – rather than the other way round. Sleep disturbance from noise  may have more effect on the elderly, children, those who work shifts or have poor health. He suggests – if screening or masking is not possible – we could design our society “to be less noisy in the first place.”