Smokers have weaker hearts than people who do not smoke, suggested a new study presented at the ESC Congress 2022. Researchers discovered that heart health deteriorated as people smoked more. People who quit smoking were able to restore some cardiac function.
“It is well known that smoking causes blocked arteries, leading to coronary heart disease and stroke. Our study shows that smoking also leads to thicker, weaker hearts. It means that smokers have a smaller volume of blood in the left heart chamber and less power to pump it out to the rest of the body. The more you smoke, the worse your heart function becomes. The heart can recuperate to some degree with smoking cessation, so it is never too late to quit,” said author Dr. Eva Holt of Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Health Hazards of Cigarette Smoking
The World Health Organization estimates that tobacco usage kills more than eight million people annually. Cigarette smoking is related to half of all the deaths in smokers. These deaths are related to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disorders such as heart attacks and stroke. Smoking has a negative impact on arteries and causes arterial diseases like heart attacks and strokes.
‘Smokers had thicker, heavier and weaker hearts that pumped lesser volume of blood compared to non-smokers.’
Smoking is linked with an increased risk of heart failure. In this condition, the heart muscle cannot adequately pump blood throughout the body, typically due to weakness or stiffness. This indicates that the body is not getting the nutrition and oxygen it requires to function normally. Smoking and cardiac structure and function have not been studied. This study investigated the relationship between smoking and changes in the heart in individuals without a history of cardiovascular disease. They also studied the impact of quitting smoking.
Protocol for Studying the Link Between Smoking and Heart Diseases
The 5th Copenhagen City Heart Study, which examined cardiovascular risk factors and illnesses in the general population, provided the data for the study. A total of 3,874 healthy volunteers between the ages of 20 and 99 enrolled in the study. A self-administered questionnaire was used to gather data on smoking history and calculate the estimated pack-years, or the total number of cigarettes smoked throughout the course of a person’s lifetime. Twenty cigarettes smoked per day for a year constitute one pack.
Participants got an echocardiogram-ultrasonography of the heart. It revealed information about its structure and level of functionality. After controlling for age, sex, body mass index, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and lung function, the researchers compared the echocardiogram measurements of current smokers with non-smokers.
The average age of the participants was 56 years and 43% were female. In this group, 18.6% of participants were active smokers, 40.9% had previously smoked and 40.5% had never smoked. The heart of current smokers was heavier, thicker and weaker than never smokers. Pumping less blood was correlated with an increase in pack years.
“We found that current smoking and accumulated pack-years were associated with worsening of the structure and function of the left heart chamber ‒ the most important part of the heart. Furthermore, we found that over a 10-year period, those who continued smoking developed thicker, heavier and weaker hearts that were less able to pump blood compared to never smokers and those who quit during that time. Our study indicates that smoking not only damages the blood vessels but also directly harms the heart. The good news is that some of the damage is reversible by giving up,” said Dr. Holt.
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Dr. Trupti Shirole. 2021. Smoking Damages Blood Vessels, Hampers Cardiac Function. Medindia, viewed Aug 27, 2022, https://www.medindia.net/news/healthwatch/smoking-damages-blood-vessels-hampers-cardiac-function-208420-1.htm.