Effect of nighttime aircraft noise exposure on endothelial function and stress hormone release in healthy adults

Selected in European Heart Journal by G.G. Toth



FP. Schmidt, M. Basner, G. Kroger, S. Weck, B. Schnorbus, A. Muttray, M. Sariyar, H. Binder, T. Gori, A. Warnholtz, T. Munzel


Eur Heart J (2013) 34 (45): 3508-3514.


December 2013


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My Comment


Association between exposure to environmental noise and increased prevalence of cardiovascular diseases is a known phenomenon. It has also been shown in recent studies that the noise exposure related to aircrafts is a more potent harm, as compared to road- or rail-traffic related noise exposure. However, the physiopathological link between the risk and the exposure remained unrevealed so far.


  •  All together 75 young (age ranged between 20 and 54), healthy, non-smoker participants, free from any sleeping disorder were enrolled.
  •  Three different noise patterns were applied for each participant in random order, namely (1) no noise, (2) 30 noise events- or (3) 60 noise events per night, each time with the same volume. Noise of aircraft was originally recorded in an apartment, next to an airport, and was played back in a proper volume for the subjects during the test nights.
  • During test nights physiologic parameters (heart rate, SaO2, temperature, pulse transit time, etc.) were monitored. After each test nights, endothelial function, arterial stiffness were investigated and also plasma cortison, interleukin-6 and adrenaline levels were checked. Questionnaires targetting sleep quality were filled in.

Major findings

  • Sleep quality was significantly worse over the three different noise patterns, according to the increasing noise exposure.
  • Marked difference was found in endothelial dysfunction after nights with the highest noise exposure. Hemodynamic parameters remained statistically unchanged over the three test nights.
  • Serum cortisol, interleukin-6 and CRP levels did not differ after different exposures.
  • Significantly higher concentration of serum adrenaline was found after exposed nights as compared to the control night.

My comments

This study has revealed a potential link between night-time noise exposure and increased cardiovascular risk. What is rather fascinating that a single night exposure is already associated with such patophysiological changes. However it is early to say that all our questions are answered now. Evaluation of present findings but on a longterm basis still needs to be targeted, as well as the impact of comorbidities or the potentially ‘vulnerable’ periods of the sleeping phases.

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