Approximately three billion people are exposed to household air pollution (HAP) from solid fuel cookstoves. Studies from single settings have linked HAP with elevated blood pressure (BP), but no evidence exists from multi-country analyses.Objectives
Using nationally representative and internationally comparable data, we examined the association between solid fuel use and BP in 77,605 largely premenopausal women (aged 15–49) from ten resource-poor countries.Methods
We obtained data on systolic and diastolic BP, self-reported primary cooking fuel, health and socio-demographic characteristics from 12 Demographic and Health Surveys conducted in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Benin, Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Namibia, and Peru. We estimated associations between history of fuel use [solid fuel (coal or biomass) versus clean fuel (electricity or gas)] with systolic and diastolic BP and hypertension using a meta-analytical approach.Results
Overall, the country-level mean systolic and diastolic BP were 117 (range: 111–127) and 74 (71–83) mmHg, respectively. The country-level mean age of the women was 30.8 years (range: 28.4–32.9). The prevalence of solid fuel use was 46.0% (range: 4.1–95.8). In adjusted, pooled analyses, primary use of solid fuel was associated with 0.58 mmHg higher systolic BP (95% CI: 0.23, 0.93) as compared to primary use of clean fuel. The pooled estimates for diastolic BP and pulse pressure were also positive, but the confidence intervals contained zero. The pooled odds of hypertension was [OR = 1.07 (95% CI: 0.99, 1.16)], an effect that was driven by rural participants for whom solid fuel use was associated with a 16% greater odds of hypertension [OR = 1.16 (95% CI: 1.01, 1.35)].Conclusions
Cooking with solid fuels was associated with small increases in BP and odds of hypertension. Use of cleaner fuels like gas or electricity may reduce cardiovascular risk in developing countries, particularly among rural residents.