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There’s certainly no doubt that a noisy workplace can raise your stress level - one only has to visit the floor of a busy factory or a school cafeteria at noon to know that some work environments are just a little more stressful than others. According to research recently published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, those who work long-term in a consistently noise prone environment are more than twice as likely to be at risk of developing heart disease compared to those who work in a quiet environment.
The findings were based on information gathered by the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). NHANES is a US based survey focusing on health and nutritional issues relating to men, women, and children in the US. The survey was conducted using a combination of interviews, blood tests, and examinations. Interviews generally covered health and nutrition issues for the entire household as well as information regarding lifestyle health factors. Interviews also examined occupational health issues.
Researchers examined a sampling of 6,000 persons over the age 20 years. In examining interview and examination results, researchers divided participants into groups based on whether participants reported working in a noisy or noise-free environment. A noisy work environment was considered one where you couldn’t speak at normal levels for at least a period of three-months or longer.
In general, researchers found:
• One-fifth (21%) reported working in a noisy environment
• Average time working in noisy environment - 9 months
• Workers in noisy environments smoked more than their counterparts
• Workers in noisy environments weighed more
• Had greater risk of “serious heart problems” (two to three times greater)
• Had higher diastolic blood pressure (isolated diastolic hypertension, or IDH)
Seventy-five percent (4,500 participants) of the sampling were under the age of 50. Researchers also found that these participants were at particular risk for heart disease.