Smoking damages blood vessels and interferes with heart function

A new study presented at the 2022 ESC Congress found that smokers have weaker hearts than non-smokers. People who quit smoking may recover some heart function.

“It’s well known that smoking clogs arteries, leading to coronary heart disease and stroke. Our study shows that smoking also leads to a thicker, weaker heart. That means those a smoker has a smaller amount of blood in the left chamber of the heart and less energy to pump it out to the rest of the body to some extent when smoking stops, so it’s never too late to quit,” said lead author Dr. of the Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.

The health risks of smoking

The World Health Organization estimates that tobacco use kills more than eight million people annually. Smoking is linked to half of all deaths among smokers. These deaths have been linked to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disorders such as heart attacks and strokes. Smoking has a negative effect on the arteries and causes arterial diseases such as heart attacks and strokes.

‘Smokers have thicker, heavier and weaker hearts that pump less blood than non-smokers.’

Smoking is associated with an increased risk of heart failure. In this condition, the heart muscle cannot adequately pump blood around the body, typically due to weakness or stiffness. This indicates that the body is not getting the nutrition and oxygen it needs to function properly. Smoking and the structure and function of the heart have not been studied. This study investigated the relationship between smoking and changes in the heart in people with no history of cardiovascular disease. They also studied the effects of quitting smoking.

Protocol to study the link between smoking and heart disease

The 5th Copenhagen City Heart Study, which studies cardiovascular risk factors and disease in the general population, provided the data for the study. A total of 3,874 healthy volunteers between the ages of 20 and 99 were enrolled in the study. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data on smoking history and calculate the estimated number of pack years, or total number of cigarettes smoked during a person’s lifetime. Twenty cigarettes smoked per day for a year constitutes a pack.

Participants received echocardiography-echocardiography. It reveals information about its structure and level of function. After controlling for age, sex, body mass index, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and lung function, the researchers compared the echocardiographic measurements of current smokers with non-smokers.
The average age of the participants was 56 years old and 43% were female. In this group, 18.6% of participants were active smokers, 40.9% had ever smoked, and 40.5% had never smoked. The hearts of current smokers are heavier, thicker, and weaker than those of never-smokers. Pumping less blood was correlated with an increase in packing years.


“We found that years of current and cumulative smoking are related to the structure and function of the left heart chambers – the most important part of the heart – we found that over a 10-year period , people who continue to smoke grow thicker, heavier and weaker hearts, have a poorer blood pumping ability than people who never smoked and those who quit during that time. We’ve shown that smoking not only damages blood vessels, but also directly harms the heart.

Source: Medindia

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