Smoking Bans Reduce Heart Attacks
Heart Attacks Drop 26% Each Year After Smoking Bans Are in Effect
Sept. 21, 2009 -- Smoking bans cut heart attacks, two separate studies
Each of the studies combined data from all previous studies of the effects
of smoking bans on heart attacks.
Each came up with the same finding: Overall, smoking bans cut heart attacks
by 17% -- and this effect increases over time. There's a 26% drop in heart
attacks each year after smoking bans are in effect, one of the studies
This reduction in risk "is not trivial," notes an editorial by Steven A.
Schroeder, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco.
"Secondhand smoke exposure is nearly as harmful to the heart as is chronic
active smoking," Schroeder writes. "It is prudent to assume that exposure to
secondhand smoke is almost as dangerous to persons with diagnosed or latent
coronary disease as active smoking."
Exactly what can breathing in the smoke from someone else's cigarette do to
you? It can:
- Make the blood sticky and more prone to clotting
- Stiffen the arteries
- Disrupt crucial functions of the arteries
- Decrease good HDL cholesterol
- Stimulate inflammation
- Make heart attacks worse
- Increase damage from free radicals
- Increase risk of heart rhythm problems
- Increase insulin resistance
"It is hard to imagine substances that would be more cardiotoxic," Schroeder
suggests. "Furthermore, these adverse effects are observed at very low
It doesn't take long for smoking bans to show results, notes David G.
Meyers, MD, MPH, of the University of Kansas, lead author of one of the
"The beneficial effect of smoking bans seems to be rapid, with declines in
[heart attacks] within three months," Meyers and colleagues report.
The findings make a strong argument for smoking bans, suggests James M.
Lightwood, PhD, co-author of the second study.
"Passing 100 percent smoke-free laws in all workplaces and public places is
something we can do to protect the public," Lightwood says in a news release.
"Now we have a better understanding of how you can predict what will happen if
you impose a smoking-free law."
The Lightwood study appears in the early online issue of Circulation:
Journal of the American Heart Association. The Meyers study and the
Schroeder editorial appear in the Sept. 29 issue of the Journal of the
American College of Cardiology.