Associations of night-time road traffic noise with carotid intima-media thickness and blood pressure: The Whitehall II and SABRE study cohorts

Jaana I. Halonen, Hakim Moulay Dehbi*, Anna L. Hansell, John Gulliver, Daniela Fecht, Marta Blangiardo, Frank J. Kelly, Nish Chaturvedi, Mika Kivimäki, Cathryn Tonne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Background Road traffic noise has been linked to increased risk of stroke, for which hypertension and carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) are risk factors. A link between traffic noise and hypertension has been established, but there are few studies on blood pressure and no studies on cIMT. Objectives To examine cross-sectional associations for long-term exposure to night-time noise with cIMT, systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and hypertension. Methods The study population consisted of 2592 adults from the Whitehall II and SABRE cohort studies living within Greater London who had cIMT, SBP and DBP measured. Exposure to night-time road traffic noise (A-weighted dB, referred to as dBA) was estimated at each participant's residential postcode centroid. Results Mean night-time road noise levels were 52 dBA (SD = 4). In the pooled analysis adjusted for cohort, sex, age, ethnicity, marital status, smoking, area-level deprivation and NOx there was a 9.1 μm (95% CI: − 7.1, 25.2) increase in cIMT in association with 10 dBA increase in night-time noise. Analyses by noise categories of 55–60 dBA (16.2 μm, 95% CI: − 8.7, 41.2), and > 60 dBA (21.2 μm, 95% CI: − 2.5, 44.9) vs. < 55 dBA were also positive but non-significant, expect among those not using antihypertensive medication and exposed to > 60 dBA vs. < 55 dBA (32.6 μm, 95% CI: 6.2, 59.0). Associations for SBP, DPB and hypertension were close to null. Conclusions After adjustments, including for air pollution, the association between night-time road traffic noise and cIMT was only observed among non-medication users but associations with blood pressure and hypertension were largely null.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-61
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the UK Natural Environment Research Council , Medical Research Council , Economic and Social Research Council , Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs , and Department of Health ( NE/I007806/1 , NE/I00789X/1 , NE/I008039/1 ) through the cross-research council Environmental Exposures & Health Initiative. The work of the UK Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU) is funded by Public Health England as part of the MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, and by the UK Medical Research Council (K013351). The UK Medical Research Council, British Heart Foundation, and the US National Institutes of Health (R01HL36310, R01AG013196) have supported collection of data in the Whitehall II Study and the work by MK. The SABRE study was supported by a joint programme grant from the Welcome Trust and British Heart Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd


  • Cardiovascular
  • Cohort study
  • Epidemiology
  • Hypertension
  • Traffic noise


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