Studies linking airport noise to higher rates of heart disease and stroke should be expanded into U.S. markets, according to at least one expert.  UT Health Science Center sports cardiologist Dr. John Higgins says a British study has found people living near Heathrow Airport in London go to the hospital more frequently and develop more heart problems.

Dr. Higgins says all that airplane noise can startle people living nearby with every take-off and landing and it can have a cumulative effect.

“Certainly, if you keep having those startled reactions, repetitively,” he explains, “then the blood pressure may stay up, and also, some of the stress hormones are released when you are startled.”

Higgins says we should also check to see if airport-based pollution – like jet fuel fumes – is a factor.

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“This may be preventing them from relaxing, Higgins says.  “Those nighttime repetitive noises seem to be the highest-associated with the cardiovascular disease.”

He says people who live near major highways without sound barriers between them and the traffic can also have the same reaction, and the same impact on their health.