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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.


soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Odalice yolanda feliz

    Glad to know "how to improve air quality inside homes where the majority of time is spent,” since my father works in the air-conditioning business, I'll let him know about this article.

    January 21, 2011 at 22:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. tendayi_jack

    i am about to print this article and throw it in my landlord/housemates faces, who 2 month ago doubted my action about filters. i had started to have chest pains.With help of sunlight i could see large amount of dust in the air in my room and decided to replace cheap quality green filters with proper HEPA filters. A week later both filters had turned from white to brown, and my chest pains suddenly stopped. ii feel happy and wise now.

    January 22, 2011 at 09:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. smitter

    Sounds like a infomercial to me. My air and heat guys says they're expensive, useless and place a strain on air handlers

    January 23, 2011 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Paul Raymer

    The filter in a standard HVAC system is designed to protect the equipment not to improve the air quality in the home. Except in the most extreme conditions when the system is running constantly, the majority of the air in the house doesn't pass through the filter fequently enough to provide effective cleaning. These houses apparently had woodburning stoves which may have provided the majority of the heat meaning the air handler may not have been running continuously. And burning wood does produce a lot of particulates. Another issue is the ability of the air handler to deal with the extra back pressure of the filter. Most HVAC systems are not designed to handle that sort of resistance. I would never recommend that my clients simply change a low resistance filter for a HEPA filter. It seems like some details are missing from this article.

    January 26, 2011 at 16:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. pbouton

    This study was concerning homes where WOOD BURNING is taking place and is not applicable to home environments where this doe snot happen. The real point of the article should be that wood burning is unhealthy. Wood smoke pollutes the indoor and outdoor air and get reintrained in the indoor air from the outdoors. Regular use of HEPA in average home has mixed results–see EPA HEPA filter report at http://www.epa.gov/iaq for more info. Try updating your Furnace filter to a MERV 8 for better filter efficiency.

    January 26, 2011 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
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  7. Breathe Safely

    wow, I did not know that. Very interesting!

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    Great article great about heart patient its short but very informative great 🙂

    Cardiovascular Cardiology news

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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.