A six-month study led by Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers concludes that the use of portable home air purifiers can improve some markers of cardiovascular health in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. People suffering from COPD often experience shortness of breath, chest tightness and chronic cough. Cardiovascular diseases such as arrythmias, heart failure, stroke and heart attack commonly accompany COPD, and both COPD and cardiovascular disease are leading causes of death around the world, according to the World Health Organization.
The new research, described online Oct. 26 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, is a secondary study of a larger Johns Hopkins-led project, the CLEAN AIR study. The CLEAN AIR study, which investigated the effects of indoor air pollution on COPD, found that people with COPD experienced improved symptoms after using portable air purifiers indoors.
“We’ve seen that air pollution in the home, where people spend a majority of their time, contributes to impairments in respiratory health. We hypothesized this pollution is a big driver of cardiovascular disease and cardiac events in people with COPD,” says lead author Sarath Raju, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of medicine who specializes in obstructive lung diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Researchers recruited 85 men and women from the original CLEAN AIR study, 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. These indoor air pollutants are composed of such things as mold and pet dander. 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. The level of PM 2.5 indoors should stay at or below 12 micrograms per cubic foot for the air to be considered healthy to breathe. Participants’ homes had an average of 13.8 micrograms per cubic foot of PM 2.5.
Then, 46 randomized 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.
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