Indoor Air Pollution and Impaired Cardiac Autonomic Function in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rationale: Indoor air pollution represents a modifiable risk factor for respiratory morbidity in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The effects of indoor air pollution, as well as the impact of interventions to improve indoor air quality, on cardiovascular morbidity in COPD remain unknown. Objectives: To determine the association between indoor particulate matter (PM) and heart rate variability (HRV), a measure of cardiac autonomic function tied to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, as well as the impact of household air purifiers on HRV. Methods: Former smokers with moderate-severe COPD were recruited from a 6-month randomized controlled trial of a portable air cleaner intervention to undergo paired assessment of both in-home PM and HRV using 24-hour Holter monitoring at up to five time points. Primary outcomes were HRV measures tied to cardiovascular morbidity (standard deviation of normal-to-normal intervals [SDNN] and root mean square of successive differences between normal-to-normal intervals [RMSSD]). Measurements and Results: Eighty-five participants contributed 317 HRV measurements. A twofold increase in household PM ⩽2.5 µm in aerodynamic diameter was associated with decreases in SDNN (β, -2.98% [95% confidence interval (CI), -5.12 to -0.78]) and RMSSD (β, -4.57% [95% CI, -10.1 to -1.60]). The greatest effects were observed with ultrafine particles (<100 nm) (RMSSD; β, -16.4% [95% CI, -22.3 to -10.1]) and among obese participants. Participants randomized to the active air cleaner saw improvements in RMSSD (β, 25.2% [95% CI, 2.99 to 52.1]), but not SDNN (β, 2.65% [95% CI, -10.8 to 18.1]), compared with the placebo group. Conclusions: This is the first U.S. study to describe the association between household PM and cardiac autonomic function among individuals with COPD, as well as the potential cardiovascular health benefits of household air cleaners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)721-730
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2023


  • COPD
  • indoor air pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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