Air filters linked to improved cardiovascular health
January 21st, 2011
01:05 PM ET

Air filters linked to improved cardiovascular health

Using a simple air filter could help prevent cardiovascular disease – the leading cause of death in the United States, suggests a study published Friday in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

When researchers from Canada placed high efficiency particle air (HEPA) filters in homes, the improved air quality also improved the health of the participants’ blood vessels.

Researchers placed HEPA filters in 25 homes in a community where woodburning stoves cause the most pollution. After living with filtered air for seven days, each participant gave blood and urine samples for researchers to analyze.

The results,  seem to encourage the use of an air filter. Participants benefited from reduced inflammation and improved function of the endothelial cells – the cells that line blood vessels.

“HEPA filters are a potentially useful intervention since they are relatively inexpensive to purchase and operate and can effectively remove tiny particles that can be inhaled, to improve air quality inside homes where the majority of time is spent,” Ryan Allen, Ph.D. of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, one of the study's authors said in a written statement.

Besides monitoring participants directly, researchers also monitored the change in indoor air quality during the seven-day period. On average, HEPA filters reduced fine particulates in the air by 60%.

“Our results support the hypothesis that systemic inflammation and impaired endothelial function, both predictors of cardiovascular morbidity, can be favorably influenced by a reduction of particle concentration and add to a growing body of evidence linking short-term exposure to particulate matter with a systemic inflammatory response,” said Allen.

Researchers conducted the study using HEPA filters made by Honeywell but the research was funded by the British Columbia Lung Association, British Columbia Ministry of Environment, and Health Canada. Those who said tobacco is smoked in their home were not allowed to participate in the study.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.