HealthDay News — For patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), household air pollution is associated with cardiac autonomic function, with the greatest effect seen for ultrafine particles, according to a study published online Oct. 26 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Sarath Raju, M.D., M.P.H., from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues examined the association between indoor particulate matter (PM) and heart rate variability (HRV), a measure of cardiac autonomic function associated with cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, in a randomized trial of a portable air cleaner intervention involving former smokers with moderate-to-severe COPD. At up to five time points, participants underwent paired assessment of in-home PM and HRV using 24-hour Holter monitoring.
Overall, 317 HRV measurements were contributed by 85 participants. The researchers found that a twofold increase in household PM2.5 was associated with reductions in the standard deviation of normal-to-normal intervals (SDNN) and the root-mean square of successive differences between normal-to-normal intervals (RMSSD; β = −2.98 and −4.57 percent). The effects were greatest with ultrafine particles (RMSSD: β = −16.4 percent) and for obese participants. Improvements in RMSSD (β = 25.2 percent) but not SDNN were seen for participants randomly assigned to the active air cleaner versus the placebo group.
“In the future, air cleaners may be something to recommend to patients along with medications, but also can be part of a larger discussion about the importance of home environments,” Raju said in a statement.