Coronary heart disease, hypertension and use of biomass fuel among women: Comparative cross-sectional study

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Objectives: To explore the associations of hypertension and coronary heart disease (CHD) with use of biomass fuel for cooking.
Design: Comparative cross-sectional study.
Setting: Rural villages in Sindh, Pakistan.
Participants: Women aged ≥40 years who had used biomass fuel for cooking for at least the last year (n=436), and a comparison group (n=414) who had cooked only with non-biomass fuel during the last year were recruited through door-to-door visits. None of those who were invited to take part declined.
Primary and secondary outcome measures: Hypertension was determined from blood pressure measurements and use of medication. CHD was assessed by three measures: history of angina (Rose angina questionnaire), previous history of 'heart attack', and definite or probable changes of CHD on ECG. Potentially confounding risk factors were ascertained by questionnaire and anthropometry. Associations of hypertension and CHD with use of biomass and other risk factors were assessed by logistic regression, and summarised by ORs with 95% CIs.
Results: After adjustment for potential confounders, there was no association of hypertension (OR: 1.0, 95% CI 0.8 to 1.4) angina (OR: 1.0, 95% CI 0.8 to 1.4), heart attack (OR: 1.2, 95% 0.7 to 2.2) or ECG changes of CHD (OR: 0.8, 95% CI 0.6 to 1.2) with current use of biomass for cooking. Nor were any associations apparent when analyses were restricted to long-term (≥10 years) users and non-users of biomass fuel.
Conclusions: A linked air monitoring study indicated substantially higher airborne concentrations of fine particulate matter in kitchens where biomass was used for cooking. It is possible that associations with CHD and hypertension were missed because most of the comparison group had used biomass for cooking at some time in the past, and risk remains elevated for many years after last exposure.


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BMJ Open