Summary: People living in areas with high levels of daytime noise had a 36% higher risk of being diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, and a 30% increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease than those living in quieter neighborhoods.
Results from a new study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia support emerging evidence suggesting that noise may influence individuals’ risk of developing dementia later in life.
Researchers studied 5,227 participants of the Chicago Health and Aging Project who were aged 65 years or older, of whom 30% had mild cognitive impairment and 11% had Alzheimer’s disease. They found that persons living with 10 decibels more noise near their residences during the daytime had a 36% higher odds of having mild cognitive impairment and a 30% higher odds of having Alzheimer’s disease.
“These findings suggest that within typical urban communities in the United States, higher levels of noise may impact the brains of older adults and make it harder for them to function without assistance. This is an important finding since millions of Americans are currently impacted by high levels of noise in their communities,” said senior author Sara D. Adar, ScD, of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor.
Professor Adar added that “although noise has not received a great deal of attention in the United States to date, there is a public health opportunity here as there are interventions that can reduce exposures both at the individual and population level.”
Funding: The study was supported by grants from the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute on Aging.
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Long‐term community noise exposure in relation to dementia, cognition, and cognitive decline in older adults
Exposure to noise might influence risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia.
Participants of the Chicago Health and Aging Project (≥65 years) underwent triennial cognitive assessments. For the 5 years preceding each assessment, we estimated 5227 participants’ residential level of noise from the community using a spatial prediction model, and estimated associations of noise level with prevalent mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD, cognitive performance, and rate of cognitive decline.
Among these participants, an increment of 10 A‐weighted decibels (dBA) in noise corresponded to 36% and 29% higher odds of prevalent MCI (odds ratio [OR] = 1.36; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.15 to 1.62) and AD (OR = 1.29, 95% CI, 1.08 to 1.55). Noise level was associated with worse global cognitive performance, principally in perceptual speed (–0.09 standard deviation per 10 dBA, 95% CI: –0.16 to –0.03), but not consistently associated with cognitive decline.
These results join emerging evidence suggesting that noise may influence late‐life cognition and risk of dementia.