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HEPA Filters May Improve Cardiovascular Health
Feb. 25, 2008 – One day doctors may recommend using high efficiency particle air (HEPA) filters along with weight loss, smoking cessation, and exercise to improve cardiovascular health, according to researchers in Denmark. In a recent study, they found that using HEPA filters for just two days significantly improved microvascular function, a key measure of cardiovascular health, in healthy, non-smoking elderly individuals. The study was published in the second issue for February of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.
Sheila Kamath, manager of University Hospital's Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, said that microvascular function, which measures how well tiny blood vessels linking veins and arteries relax and dilate in response to blood and oxygen demands, is an important part of cardiovascular care, especially for those diagnosed with diabetes. Ms. Kamath noted that diabetes education is available for all University Hospital cardiac patients -- an important step in lowering a patient's risk for developing complications from the disease.
In the HEPA study, researchers measured MVF and ambient airborne particles in the homes of 21 non-smoking couples aged 60-75 who lived close to heavily trafficked roads. Each couple used air purifiers for two 48-hour periods. During one period, the purifier was equipped with a HEPA filter, and during the other, it ran without it, so that each individual served as his or her own control. The size distribution and number concentration of indoor air particles in each home were continuously monitored.
The researchers then assessed each individual’s MVF using a noninvasive finger sensor. Several secondary endpoints were studied in blood and urine samples to assess possible mechanisms of action: markers of inflammation, hemostasis, and oxidative stress.
The researchers found that HEPA filtration removed about 60 percent of the ultrafine, fine and coarse air particles in homes, and was associated with an 8.1 percent improvement in individual MVF.