Aircraft noise and cardiovascular disease near Heathrow airport in London: small area study

TitleAircraft noise and cardiovascular disease near Heathrow airport in London: small area study
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsHansell A.L, Blangiardo M., Fortunato L., Floud S., de Hoogh K., Fecht D., Ghosh R.E, Laszlo H.E, Pearson C., Beale L., Beevers S., Gulliver J., Best N., Richardson S., Elliott P.
JournalBmjBMJBMJ (Clinical research ed.)
ISBN Number0959-535x
Accession Number24103537
Keywords*Aircraft, *Airports, Aged, Cardiovascular Diseases/*epidemiology/etiology, Environmental Exposure/*adverse effects, Female, Hospitalization/*statistics & numerical data, Humans, London/epidemiology, Male, Middle Aged, Morbidity/trends, Noise, Transportation/*adverse effects, Retrospective Studies, Risk Assessment/*methods, Risk Factors, Rural Population, Small-Area Analysis, Survival Rate/trends, Time Factors

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the association of aircraft noise with risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease in the general population. DESIGN: Small area study. SETTING: 12 London boroughs and nine districts west of London exposed to aircraft noise related to Heathrow airport in London. POPULATION: About 3.6 million residents living near Heathrow airport. Risks for hospital admissions were assessed in 12 110 census output areas (average population about 300 inhabitants) and risks for mortality in 2378 super output areas (about 1500 inhabitants). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Risk of hospital admissions for, and mortality from, stroke, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease, 2001-05. RESULTS: Hospital admissions showed statistically significant linear trends (P63 dB v = 51 dB), the relative risk of hospital admissions for stroke was 1.24 (95% confidence interval 1.08 to 1.43), for coronary heart disease was 1.21 (1.12 to 1.31), and for cardiovascular disease was 1.14 (1.08 to 1.20) adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, deprivation, and a smoking proxy (lung cancer mortality) using a Poisson regression model including a random effect term to account for residual heterogeneity. Corresponding relative risks for mortality were of similar magnitude, although with wider confidence limits. Admissions for coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease were particularly affected by adjustment for South Asian ethnicity, which needs to be considered in interpretation. All results were robust to adjustment for particulate matter (PM10) air pollution, and road traffic noise, possible for London boroughs (population about 2.6 million). We could not distinguish between the effects of daytime or night time noise as these measures were highly correlated. CONCLUSION: High levels of aircraft noise were associated with increased risks of stroke, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease for both hospital admissions and mortality in areas near Heathrow airport in London. As well as the possibility of causal associations, alternative explanations such as residual confounding and potential for ecological bias should be considered.

Short TitleBMJ
Alternate JournalBMJ (Clinical research ed.)