Indoor air filters associated with a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure

Ambient air pollution directly leads to poorer health outcomes, and even short-term exposure to fine particulate matter can increase a person’s risk of adverse cardiovascular events. Researchers explored how personal air cleaners (PACs) might help decrease exposure to fine particulate matter, sharing their findings in Hypertension.

“Although some trials have demonstrated improvements in systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP), respectively, with indoor air filtration, evidence remains mixed overall,” wrote lead author Dalia Walzer, New York University School of Medicine, and colleagues. “Therefore, to evaluate the utility of indoor air filtration on SBP and DBP, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of published trials evaluating effects of in-home PACs on (1) indoor particulate matter concentrations and (2) SBP and DBP in nonsmoking adults.”

The team searched through five different databases, focusing on 10 key clinical trials with 604 total participants. Overall, over a median duration of 13.5 days, using a PAC was associated with a significant reduction in SBP and “no evidence of an effect” on DBP. The findings were consistent “across categories of cardiopulmonary risk factors, medication categories, age, or levels of fine particulate matter exposure, suggesting the results of our meta-analysis are similar across different population subgroups.”

Even minor changes in a person’s SBP can make a noticeable impact, the authors noted. For example, decreasing a population’s SBP by 5 mmHg could reduce the risk of mortality from stroke 14% and the risk of all-cause mortality 7%.

“Although modest, a short-term decrease in SBP of 4 mmHg through the use of PACs may have important health benefits if sustainable over the long term,” Walzer et al. wrote.

The researchers did emphasize that additional research is needed to learn more about how PAC use can improve an individual’s cardiovascular health.