Air Filtration Improves Older Adults' Vascular Function

Just 48 hours of exposure to indoor air treated with HEPA filters has significant effects

FRIDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- In healthy older people, even short-term use of indoor high-efficiency particle air (HEPA) filters can significantly improve microvascular function, suggesting that air filtration may be an effective strategy for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a study published in the Feb. 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Elvira Vaclavik Bräuner, Ph.D., of the Institute of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health, in Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues studied 21 healthy, nonsmoking older couples (median age 67). They conducted a randomized, double-blind crossover study during which subjects experienced two consecutive 48-hour exposures to either filtered or nonfiltered air. At the end of each period, they assessed subjects microvascular function and measured biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress.

The researchers found that indoor air filtration improved microvascular function by 8.1 percent. But it had no effect on biomarkers such as C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α. They also found that the mass of indoor particles had a more important effect on microvascular function -- which was significantly affected by exposure to iron, potassium, copper, zinc, arsenic and lead in the fine fraction -- than the concentration did.

"The effects we show in this study were measured after a 48-hour intervention," the authors write. "It is possible that the effects occurred much earlier, and it may also be speculated that further improvement may occur after prolonged intervention by 6 months to 1 year, and that this could result in further reduction in cardiovascular risk."

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