A study out of the University of Michigan shows that air pollution increases blood pressure and the risk of heart attack. The study identified that fine particulate matter is worse for cardiovascular health than ozone. It also shows the specific ways that air pollution affects one's heart health. To reduce the effects of this type of air pollution, people should consider getting HEPA air purifiers to improve their indoor air quality.
Cardiovascular Health Study
The study, "Insights into the Mechanisms and Mediators of the Effects of Air Pollution Exposure on Blood Pressure and Vascular Function in Healthy Humans," was published in the journal Hypertension, a publication put out by the American Heart Association. Researchers conducted two randomized, double-blind crossover studies measuring the effects of ozone and fine particulate matter on cardiovascular health. Subjects in good health were exposed to air pollution in a series of three two-hour sessions. The air simulated the pollution present in urban environments near major roadways.
Air Pollution Tested
Researchers exposed subjects to two main forms of air pollution: ozone and fine particulate matter. Ozone is a well-known pollutant, recognized by both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization as a hazard. Fine particulate matter is made up of microscopic particles measuring 2.5 microns, less than a tenth of the diameter of a strand of human hair. These particles come from the burning of fossil fuels, such as a car's exhaust, for example. Fine particles can settle deep in the lungs and may even get into the body's bloodstream. Previous studies haven't been able to clearly determine whether fine particulate matter or ozone was worse for people's health. Significantly, this study did.
Test results indicated that fine particulate matter both significantly raised diastolic blood pressure and impaired the normal functioning of blood vessels. The increase in blood pressure occurred soon after exposure to air pollution, within about 2 hours of breathing in the air. The changes in blood vessel function took longer, but also lasted for a longer period of time, in some cases up to 24 hours. The particles also disrupted the body's central nervous system and triggered inflammation, which can weaken the walls of blood vessels. The lead researcher, Dr. Robert Brook, stated, "Although this increase in diastolic blood pressure may pose little health risk to healthy people, in people with underlying coronary artery disease, this small increase may actually be able to a trigger heart attack or stroke." The authors recommended that on days with significant air pollution present, people with lung disease, heart disease, or diabetes should stay indoors as much as possible. Given that these deleterious effects were experienced by people only subjected to pollution for a limited amount of time, people who live in polluted areas should take special care with their cardiovascular health.
Indoor Air Quality
Staying indoors is less helpful if indoor air quality is poor. The EPA has stated that indoor air pollution is two to five-times worse than air found outdoors. This is because pollution accumulates within the home, becoming more concentrated, both from sources inside the home and outside pollutants seeping in. The EPA's three suggestions for improving indoor air quality include controlling the pollution's source, improving ventilation, and using an effective air filtration system. Since 9 out of every 10 breaths is taken indoors, it's important to make sure that the air one breathes is clean and healthy.
HEPA Air Purifiers for Improved Indoor Air
High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) purifiers can filter out many of the airborne pollutants that may harm cardiovascular health. To get a US government HEPA rating, filters must remove 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 microns and larger. Purifiers often include both a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter, the latter of which removes toxic chemicals, gases, and odors. Together they can remove a wide array of airborne pollutants and provide clean, pure air. Clean Air Plus offers HEPA air purifiers by trusted manufacturers. Quality air purifiers are able to remove the types of pollutants that researchers found harmful to the heart. Anyone concerned about cardiovascular health or has an underlying heart condition should consider purchasing a HEPA air purifier. They improve indoor air quality, allowing people to breathe easier.
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