Secondhand Smoke Poses Highest Heart Disease Risk
A new study provided additional evidence on the threat of secondhand smoke. Researchers found that exposure to secondhand smoke was already an independent predictor of the prevalence of coronary artery plaque. It was found that the risk of developing diseased arteries increases as the duration and degree of exposure increases.
Harvey S. Hecht, MD and colleagues reported online in JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging that the overall prevalence of coronary artery plaque in those exposed to passive smoke was higher compared to the general public. Those with the highest amount of exposure have a 90% chance of having coronary plaque compared with the general public.
The researchers gathered data on more than 3,000 asymptomatic people who are non-smokers and were in the screening program between 2005 and 2012. As part of the screening program, the participants with ages ranging from 40 to 80 years old underwent a series of low-dose CT scans and answered detailed health questionnaires including exposure to secondhand smoke from childhood to adult years.
Four categories of exposure were created: minimal (that seen in the general public), low, moderate and high and a total secondhand smoke exposure score were assigned.
In addition to the finding on secondhand smoke being an independent predictor, researchers found out as well that exposure as an adult was more significant than exposure during childhood. Older women tend to have higher levels of smoke exposure and have high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes.
According to the authors, this study is the first to demonstrate a clear dose-response relationship between exposure to passive smoke and the earliest detectable signs of heart disease. Hecht added that inquiry on secondhand smoke should be part of every routine exam.
Kaiser, C. Secondhand Smoke Riskier than Cholesterol. MedPage Today.