Exposure to road traffic noise may increase blood pressure and heart rate. It is unclear to what extent exposure to air pollution may influence this relationship. We investigated associations between noise, blood pressure and heart rate, with harmonized data from three European cohorts, while taking into account exposure to air pollution.Methods
Road traffic noise exposure was assessed using a European noise model based on the Common Noise Assessment Methods in Europe framework (CNOSSOS-EU). Exposure to air pollution was estimated using a European-wide land use regression model. Blood pressure and heart rate were obtained by trained clinical professionals. Pooled cross-sectional analyses of harmonized data were conducted at the individual level and with random-effects meta-analyses.Results
We analyzed data from 88,336 participants, across the three participating cohorts (mean age 47.0 (±13.9) years). Each 10 dB(A) increase in noise was associated with a 0.93 (95% CI 0.76;1.11) bpm increase in heart rate, but with a decrease in blood pressure of 0.01 (95% CI −0.24;0.23) mmHg for systolic and 0.38 (95% CI −0.53; −0.24) mmHg for diastolic blood pressure. Adjustments for PM10 or NO2 attenuated the associations, but remained significant for DBP and HR. Results for BP differed by cohort, with negative associations with noise in LifeLines, no significant associations in EPIC-Oxford, and positive associations with noise >60 dB(A) in HUNT3.Conclusions
Our study suggests that road traffic noise may be related to increased heart rate. No consistent evidence for a relation between noise and blood pressure was found.