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Exposure to road traffic noise and incidence of acute myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure: a population-based cohort study in Toronto, Canada

Bai L, Shin S, Oiamo TH, Burnett RT, Weichenthal S, Jerrett M, Kwong JC, Copes R, Kopp A, Chen H. Environ Health Perspect. 2020; Aug 12 [Epub ahead of print]. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP5809


Background — Epidemiological evidence for the association between traffic-related noise and the incidence of major cardiovascular events such as acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and congestive heart failure (CHF) is inconclusive, especially in North America.

Objectives — We evaluated the associations between long-term exposure to road traffic noise and the incidence of AMI and CHF.

Methods — Our study population comprised ∼1 million people 30–100 years of age who lived in Toronto, Canada, from 2001 to 2015 and were free of AMI (referred to as the AMI cohort) or CHF (the CHF cohort) at baseline. Outcomes were ascertained from health administrative databases using validated algorithms. Annual average noise levels were estimated as the A-weighted equivalent sound pressure level over the 24-h period (LAeq24) and during nighttime (LAeqNight), respectively, using propagation modeling, and assigned to participants’ annual six-digit postal code addresses during follow-up. We calculated hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for incident AMI and CHF in relation to LAeq24 and LAeqNight using random-effects Cox proportional hazards models adjusting for individual- and census tract–level covariates, including traffic-related air pollutants [e.g., ultrafine particles (UFPs) and nitrogen dioxide].

Results — During follow-up, there were 37,441 AMI incident cases and 95,138 CHF incident cases. Each interquartile range change in LAeq24 was associated with an increased risk of incident AMI (HR=1.07; 95% CI: 1.06, 1.08) and CHF (HR=1.07; 95% CI: 1.06, 1.09). Similarly, LAeqNight was associated with incident AMI (HR=1.07; 95% CI: 1.05, 1.08) and CHF (HR=1.06; 95% CI: 1.05, 1.07). These results were robust to various sensitivity analyses and remained elevated after controlling for long-term exposure to UFPs and nitrogen dioxide. We found near-linear relationships between noise and the incidence of AMI and CHF with no evidence of threshold values.

Conclusion — In this large cohort study in Toronto, Canada, chronic exposure to road traffic noise was associated with elevated risks for AMI and CHF incidence.

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