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What causes high blood pressure? (Image by freepik on freepik)

Study Explains Why Smoke Exposure Can Be a Cause of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a prevalent health concern that may cause damage to both the arteries and overall health. Often asymptomatic, this condition can silently inflict damage before symptoms manifest.

A study was published on November 28, 2023, in the Annals of Internal Medicine conducted by the University of Washington looking into one of the causes of high blood pressure i.e., being exposed to fumes and smoke, often during standing in traffic.


We will discuss probable causes, symptoms, and prevention of high blood pressure as looked into in the study in this article.

Study explaining causes of high blood pressure

Being stuck in traffic for a long time can cause high blood pressure (imagine by freepik on freepik)

Led by Dr. Joel Kaufman, a physician and professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, the study delves into the impact of highway traffic and inhaled fumes on the risk of high blood pressure. The research reveals an elevation of 5 millimeters of mercury in blood pressure, a concerning escalation for individuals with normal blood pressure levels of 120/80 mm Hg. Thus, a person already suffering from elevated blood pressure may go to stage 1 hypertension if they stay in highway traffic.


Rush-hour traffic causes high blood pressure

High blood pressure is asymptomatic in nature (image by freepik on freepik)

In this study, there were nearly 40 participants involved. Dr. Joel Kaufman said:

“It’s a real, interesting, important number that if you think of millions of people having this exposure every day, that’s moving a lot of people from the normal to the high blood pressure range”

He also added:

“That has a lot of impact on the risk of heart attacks and strokes.”

To begin this study, he filled a closed room with small amounts of fumes caused by burning diesel, and in the same room, he put those participants. After a while, most of the participants showed an elevation in their blood pressure which confirmed this study.

This study didn't end there Dr. Kaufman took it to the streets. He used Dodge caravans and drove them on streets in rush hours. One of the drives was unfiltered and another was filtered with HEPA devices. This experiment showed that people driving caravans with HEPA devices had an elevated bp but less than 5 millimeters of mercury.


Dr. Kaufman mentioned that not only does driving through rush hour traffic lead to high blood pressure but also walking, biking or living affects the people.

Prevention for high blood pressure

We can infer from the study that there is no specific solution for the cause. Using HEPA devices that filter the air can reduce the risk of increased blood pressure. However, other preventive measures should be taken to avoid the problem of high blood pressure.

Having a balanced diet, managing stress, exercising daily, not consuming smoking and alcohol, and regular check-ups can help a lot of people struggling with high blood pressure.


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Edited by
Abigail Kevichusa
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