To avoid dying from a heart attack, avoid polluted air.
Scientists who study air pollution have increasingly linked fine particulate pollution not just soot and dust, but also droplets formed by mid-air chemical reactions to heart damage. The lungs are an obvious target, but these particles are so tiny, yet damaging, that they can be absorbed through the lungs and enter the blood stream, clogging and damaging the circulatory system.
Now, new research out of Denmark suggests that some people can improve their heart health by filtering out these fine particulates with a HEPA filter in the home (that's
The HEPA filter won't substitute for weight loss, smoking cessation and exercise, but it can be a component of a regimen to improve one's heart health. The study found that using a HEPA filter for just two days improved "microvascular function" in otherwise healthy elderly non-smokers. Abnormal functioning of these microvessels is a predictor of fatal heart attacks, so anything to improve their health is a good thing for people at risk of heart failure.
This suggests that indoor air filtration represents a feasible means of reducing cardiovascular risk, said Dr. Steffen Loft, of the Institute of Public Health in Copenhagen, who published his study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The study compared the outcomes for 21 non-smoking couples aged 60-75 who lived near roads with heavy traffic. Vehicles are a major producer of fine particles, along with smokestacks and the mid-air reactions that occur between pollutants released by both. Each couple was assessed after breathing filtered, and HEPA-filtered air.
The HEPA filters removed about 60% of the smallest particles, and improved the function of the microvascular system by more than 8%.
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