Household air purifiers can boost heart health in people with COPD

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In a study from Johns Hopkins Medicine, scientists found that the use of portable home air purifiers can improve some markers of heart health in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD.

People suffering from COPD often experience shortness of breath, chest tightness, and chronic cough.

Heart diseases such as arrhythmias, heart failure, stroke, and heart attack commonly accompany COPD, and both COPD and heart disease are leading causes of death around the world, according to the World Health Organization.

In the study, the team tested 85 men and women, who were adults (average age 65) with COPD. The participants lived primarily in the Baltimore area.

First, researchers had trained technicians take air samples of indoor particulate matter of varying sizes from participants’ homes.

One of the tiniest kinds of particulate matter, PM 2.5—smaller than the diameter of a human hair—can be detrimental to respiratory and heart health by infiltrating the bloodstream through the lungs and causing inflammation.

Then, 46 participants received two portable air cleaners with HEPA and carbon filters to use at home; the other participants received placebo air cleaners that circulated air but had the filters removed.

At the end of the experiment, the team found all 46 participants with active HEPA and carbon filters had improved markers of heart health, specifically a 25% increase in heart rate variability.

Participants without active filters saw no increase.

A healthy heart is constantly adjusting its rate to meet the body’s physical demands, and as such, has a higher heart rate variability.

The team also looked at the effects of ultrafine particles in the homes.

These particles, smaller than a thousandth of a millimeter or one micron, are able to travel to the deepest part of the lungs when inhaled, and can even cross into the bloodstream.

The researchers uncovered a correlation between an increase in ultrafine particles and poorer heart health markers.

The team says ultrafine particles might be the most potent particles in terms of health consequences. These particles and other indoor air pollutants can cause systemic inflammation in susceptible patients like those with COPD.

This study shows there’s a negative impact on cardiovascular health, as well.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and flu and COVID vaccines may increase heart disease risk.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies that artificial sweeteners in food are linked to a higher risk of heart disease, and results showing magnets in common popular devices may harm your heart health.

The study was conducted by Sarath Raju et al and published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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