United States

Got a Noisy Job? CDC Says it Could Affect Blood Pressure, Cholesterol

Diet and exercise may come to mind when you think of high blood pressure and cholesterol, but the Centers for Disease Control says a loud workplace may also be a factor.

According to a CDC study, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are more common among workers exposed to loud noise at their jobs.

A quarter of U.S. workers - an estimated 41 million people - reported a history of noise exposure at work, the CDC said.

Researchers with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health looked at a 2014 survey to estimate the prevalence of workplace noise exposure, hearing difficulty and heart conditions.

Their analysis found:

  • Twenty-five percent of current workers had a history of work-related noise exposure; 14 percent were exposed in the last year.
  • Twelve percent of current workers had hearing difficulty, 24 percent had high blood pressure and 28 percent had high cholesterol. Of these cases 58 percent, 14 percent, and 9 percent, respectively, were attributed to occupational noise exposure.
Not surprisingly, the study found that the industries with the highest level of occupational noise exposure were mining (61 percent), construction (51 percent) and manufacturing (47 percent). Occupations with the highest noise exposure were production (55 percent); construction and extraction (54 percent); and installation, maintenance and repair (54 percent).

“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," said study co-author Liz Masterson, Ph.D. "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."

Masterson said it's important for workers to be screened regularly for these conditions in the workplace or through a health care provider.
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