Senior author Francesca Dominici, professor of biostatistics and associate dean of information technology at Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues at the Boston University School of Public Health found, on average, zip codes with 10-decibel higher aircraft noise had a 3.5 percent higher cardiovascular hospital admission rate.
"It was surprising to find that living close to an airport, and therefore being exposed to aircraft noise, can adversely affect your cardiovascular health, even beyond exposure to air pollution and traffic noise," Dominici said in a statement.
Dominici and colleagues analyzed the relationship between noise from 89 U.S. airports and cardiovascular-related hospitalizations among approximately 6 million study participants in 2009 using data from Medicare, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Census.
In their analysis, the researchers factored in socioeconomic status, demographic factors, air pollution and roadway proximity.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found the highest levels of aircraft noise had the strongest association with cardiovascular disease hospitalizations. Overall, 2.3 percent of hospitalizations for cardiovascular disease among older people living near airports were attributable to aircraft noise, the study said.
The researchers speculated that since any loud noise is a stressor and the stress reaction and an increase in blood pressure -- risk factors for heart disease -- might account for the increase cardiovascular disease for older adult living near an airport.