Smoking cigarettes may double risk of heart failure, study finds

Photo (c) Peter Dazeley - Getty Images

Quitting smoking may not mitigate these risks right away

A new study conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health explored the heart health risks associated with smoking cigarettes. According to their findings, consumers who currently smoke or have smoked cigarettes may be twice as likely to develop heart failure. 

“This reinforces the view that smoking casts a long shadow over heart health,” said researcher Dr. Kunihiro Matsushita. 

Long-term heart health risks

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from over 9,300 people enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. The participants were between the ages of 61 and 81, and none of them had a history of heart failure when the study began. The team tracked the participants’ health outcomes over the course of 13 years to better understand the link between heart health and cigarette smoking. 

The study showed that smoking cigarettes was linked with a higher risk of heart failure – even for those who had quit smoking. The researchers explained that there are two main types of heart failure – reduced ejection refraction and preserved ejection refraction. Compared to participants who never smoked, smokers were 2.16 times as likely to develop the former and 2.28 times as likely to develop the latter. 

There was also a link between the amount that the participants smoked and their heart health risks. The more cigarettes the participants smoked on a daily basis, and the more years that they smoked, the higher their risk of heart failure. 

Former smokers also weren’t exempt from heart failure risks. Only those who had stopped smoking for at least three decades had a lower risk of heart failure; all other former smokers remained at an elevated risk of heart failure. 

The team hopes these findings encourage stronger efforts to prevent smoking, particularly for younger consumers. 

“These findings underline the importance of preventing smoking in the first place, especially among children and young adults,” said Dr. Matsushita. “We hope our results encourage current smokers to quit sooner rather than later, since the harm of smoking can last for as many as three decades.”

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