According to researchers, a Portable air purifier reduces BP and helps protect the heart from air pollution risks.
The air pollution is detrimental to the health of lung but it is equally bad for cardiovascular health. Microscopic particles known as fine particulate matter floating in the air which we breathe usually come from sources such as fossil fuel combustion, fires, cigarettes, construction sites and vehicles.
A World Health Organization report released on May 2 found that Delhi has the worst air quality in the world. India’s capital was found to have a heavy presence of PM10 particular matter – 292 micrograms per cubic meter. The annual safe limit set by the WHO is 60. While 13 Indian cities are among the 20 most-polluted worldwide, the following infographic provides an overview of how Delhi compares to other major global cities.
Now, researchers have found that an inexpensive portable air purifier used inside a home is powerful enough to round up a good portion of those minuscule particles and get them out of the indoor air — a simple move that may protect the heart.
Dr Masako Morishita and colleagues from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University conducted the research and found that only three days of using a low-cost air purifier at home significantly lowered urban seniors’ fine particulate matter exposure. It also significantly lowered their blood pressure, which is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The study has been published in JAMA Internal Medicine,
“The results show that a simple practical intervention using inexpensive indoor air filtration units can help protect at-risk individuals from the adverse health effects of fine particulate matter air pollution,” says Brook, the study’s senior author. Usually, people spend nearly 90 per cent of its time indoors, therefore researchers focused on exposure to pollutants while people are inside their own homes.
Forty seniors participated in this randomized, double-blind study between fall 2014 and fall 2016. Ninety-five per cent of the participants were black; all were nonsmokers. Each person experienced three different three-day scenarios: a sham air filter (an air filtration system without a filter), a low-efficiency air purifier system and a high-efficiency air purifier system.
Participants went about their normal business during the study period and were allowed to open windows and go outside as often as they wished. Blood pressure was measured each day, and participants wore personal air monitors to determine their personal air pollution exposure.
The researchers focused on reduced air pollutant exposure and lowered BP over a three-day period as an indication of the portable air filters’ potential to be cardioprotective.
They found that fine particulate matter exposure was reduced by 40 per cent, and systolic blood pressure was reduced by an average of 3.4 mm Hg (normal systolic blood pressure is considered less than 120 mm Hg; stage 1 hypertension begins at 130 and stage 2 at 140).
“The benefits were even more marked in obese individuals who had 6 to 10 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure,” says Brook, also a professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School.
And even a small investment could reap big benefits: High-efficiency air purifiers reduced pollutant exposure to a greater degree, but they didn’t lower people’s blood pressure more significantly than low-efficiency air purifiers, which are widely available for less than $70 apiece.
“During the time of the study in Detroit, outdoor fine particulate matter levels averaged 9 micrograms per cubic meter, which is within the National Ambient Air Quality Standards,” Brook adds. “This strongly supports that even further improvements in air quality can be yet more protective to public health.”
Researchers, Brook says, wanted to explore preventive strategies in everyday situations where aging adults are already dealing with other health conditions and may be on medications.
Nearly half of the participants in the small study met the criteria for obesity — and their mean blood pressure would be classified as hypertensive, according to the 2017 American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology guideline.
It’s also the first known pollution and heart health study to focus on a three-part combination of low-income seniors, an urban environment in the U.S. and personal exposures to fine particulate matter.
Despite the findings in the small study, more research is needed.
Currently available epidemiologic calculations predict an approximate 16 per cent decrease in cardiovascular events if a 3.2 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure is maintained for a period of months to years, the study’s authors note.
“In the meantime, clinicians and medical societies should play an active role in supporting clean air regulations in the effort to improve the health of their patients and families,” Brook says.
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