MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Wenqi Gan, MD, PhD
Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health
University of Kentucky College of Public Health
Lexington, KY 40536
Medical Research: What is the background for this study?
Dr. Wenqi Gan: In epidemiologic studies on health effects of noise exposure, community noise is typically assessed using noise prediction models, occupational noise is assessed using self-reports or historical records. These methods are able to estimate community noise exposure in residential areas and occupational noise exposure in the workplace; however, these methods are not able to accurately reflect actual personal noise exposure in the home and workplace. The lack of personal noise exposure information is a major limitation of previous studies, which could cause underestimations of the true health effects of noise exposure. Bilateral high-frequency hearing loss, an objective indicator for long-term exposure to loud noise, may be used to investigate health effects of noise exposure.
Medical Research: What are the main findings?
Dr. Wenqi Gan: This study includes 5223 people aged 20-69 years who participated in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2004. Compared with people with normal high-frequency hearing, people with bilateral high-frequency hearing loss were approximately two times more likely to have coronary heart disease. This association was particularly striking for people who were chronically exposed to loud noise in the workplace or leisure time. For example, for currently employed workers with occupational noise exposure history, the possibility of having coronary heart disease increased more than four times. This study confirms that chronic exposure to loud noise is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Wenqi Gan: Accumulating evidence suggests that exposure to loud noise can increase the risk of coronary heart disease. However, this risk can be prevented by eliminating or reducing excessive noise exposure in the home and workplace. Using earmuffs and earplugs is able to reduce personal noise exposure.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Wenqi Gan: Little is known about the biological mechanisms underlying the associations between noise exposure and heart disease outcomes. Future studies, especially controlled human exposure studies, are needed to better understand the pathways for the observed associations.
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Wenqi Gan, MD, PhD (2015). Chronic Loud Noise Exposure Raises Risk of Heart Disease