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CDC: Loud Workplaces Associated with Heart Disease

March 22, 2018
A quarter of U.S. workers experience a history of noise exposure on the job.

A CDC study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine links high blood pressure and high cholesterol to workers who are exposed to loud noise at work.

Researchers at CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also found that a quarter of U.S. workers – an estimated 41 million people – reported a history of noise exposure at work.
 
"Reducing workplace noise levels is critical not just for hearing loss prevention – it may also impact blood pressure and cholesterol," said John Howard, M.D NIOSH director, in a statement. "Worksite health and wellness programs that include screenings for high blood pressure and cholesterol should also target noise-exposed workers."

NIOSH researchers analyzed data from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey to estimate the prevalence of occupational noise exposure, hearing difficulty and heart conditions within U.S. industries and occupations. They also looked at the association between workplace noise exposure and heart disease.

The analysis discovered that of the 25 percent of current workers had a history of work-related noise exposure, 14 percent were exposed in the last year.

In addition, 12 percent of workers experienced difficulty hearing, 24 percent had high blood pressure and 28 percent had high cholesterol. Of these cases 58 percent, 14 percent, and 9 percent, respectively, can be attributed to occupational noise exposure, according to researchers.

Industries with the highest prevalence of occupational noise exposure were mining (61 percent), construction (51 percent) and manufacturing (47 percent).

"A significant percentage of the workers we studied have hearing difficulty, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol that could be attributed to noise at work," said Liz Masterson, Ph.D. study co-author, in a statement."If noise could be reduced to safer levels in the workplace, more than 5 million cases of hearing difficulty among noise-exposed workers could potentially be prevented. This study provides further evidence of an association of occupational noise exposure with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and the potential to prevent these conditions if noise is reduced. It is important that workers be screened regularly for these conditions in the workplace or through a healthcare provider, so interventions can occur. As these conditions are more common among noise-exposed workers, they could especially benefit from these screenings."

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