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Insulation under flooring could reduce risk of high blood pressure, diabetes: study

TOKYO — Underfloor insulation could reduce adverse health effects such as high blood pressure from low temperatures near the floor, a survey presented by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism shows.

The study on the effects of insulation on health found that when the temperatures near the floor of a person’s home were lower, the proportion of people seeing a doctor regularly for ailments such as high blood pressure and diabetes increased, the ministry said. Furthermore, people living in homes with a large temperature difference between the living room and the bedrooms tended to have higher blood pressure.

The long-term study on insulation was carried out by the Japan Sustainable Building Consortium, an organization representing home building firms and other bodies, since the 2014 fiscal year. It targeted 4,131 people in 2,307 homes marked for insulation retrofitting. The average age of the study participants, comprising roughly of half men and half women, was about 57. Comparisons were drawn between residents’ health before and after insulation work was done for a total of 1,194 people in 679 homes that were actually insulated.

Researchers used the value 1 to represent the proportion of people seeing doctors for high blood pressure, diabetes or other such ailments while living in homes where the temperature 1 meter above the floor was 16 degrees Celsius or higher and the temperature near the floor was 15 C or higher. They found that in homes where the temperature near the floor was below 15 C, the people were on average 1.51 times more likely to have high blood pressure and 1.64 times more likely to have diabetes.

“We can say that when a home has a heated floor, (adverse) effects on people’s health can be reduced,” commented Keio University professor Toshiharu Ikaga, a member of the study panel.

As another part of the study, subjects measured their blood pressure after waking up and moving from their bedroom to their living room. The results showed that people in homes where the temperature in the living room was 18 C and the temperature in the bedroom was just 10 C had a blood pressure reading 2 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) higher than those in homes where the bedroom and living room temperatures were both 18 C.

Additionally, there was also a tendency among people living in colder homes to have trouble hearing, broken bones or sprains, the research showed.