The role of noise as an environmental pollutant and its impact on health are being increasingly recognized. Beyond its effects on the auditory system, noise causes annoyance and disturbs sleep, and it impairs cognitive performance. Furthermore, evidence from epidemiologic studies demonstrates that environmental noise is associated with an increased incidence of arterial hypertension, myocardial infarction, and stroke. Both observational and experimental studies indicate that in particular night-time noise can cause disruptions of sleep structure, vegetative arousals (e.g. increases of blood pressure and heart rate) and increases in stress hormone levels and oxidative stress, which in turn may result in endothelial dysfunction and arterial hypertension. This review focuses on the cardiovascular consequences of environmental noise exposure and stresses the importance of noise mitigation strategies for public health.
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