Current countermeasures for preventing hypertension emphasize only improvements to lifestyle. Recently, improving life environment has attracted attention, in parallel with publication of the WHO Housing and health guidelines. We quantitatively evaluated the relationship between housing thermal environment and blood pressure (BP) in a real-world setting. We conducted a nationwide, prospective intervention study—the Smart Wellness Housing survey—in Japan, as a non-randomized controlled trial. The intervention was the retrofitting of thermal insulation in houses. Participant recruitment was done by construction companies in all 47 prefectures of Japan. Measurements of home BP and indoor temperature at 1.0 m above the floor in the living room, changing room, and bedroom were taken for 2 weeks before and after the intervention each winter (November–March) of FY 2014–2019. As of July 2022, over 2500 households and 5000 participants were registered in the database.
We found that (1) about 90% of Japanese lived in cold homes (minimum indoor temperature <18 °C), (2) indoor temperature was non-linearly associated with home BP, (3) morning systolic BP (SBP) was more sensitive than evening SBP to changes in indoor temperature, (4) SBP was influenced by indoor temperature change particularly in older participants and women, (5) unstable indoor temperature was associated with large BP variability, and (6) insulation retrofitting intervention significantly reduced home BP, especially in hypertensive patients. We proposed that the BP reduction effect of the life-environment is comparable to that achievable by lifestyle.