It is well known that smoking causes blocked arteries, leading to coronary heart disease and stroke. A new study on Thursday warned that smoking also leads to thicker, weaker hearts. The researchers found that the more people smoked, the worse their heart function became. Some function was restored when people kicked the habit. "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," study author Dr Eva Holt of Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark. The heart can recuperate to some degree with smoking cessation, so it is never too late to quit, Hold added in a paper presented at ESC Congress 2022.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), tobacco kills more than eight million people each year.
Cigarette smoking is responsible for 50 per cent of all avoidable deaths in smokers, with half of these due to atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke. The detrimental effects of smoking on the arteries and arterial diseases such as heart attack and stroke are well established.
The new study explored whether smoking was related to changes in the structure and function of the heart in people without cardiovascular disease, and the effect of changing smoking habits.
The study analysed data of a total of 3,874 participants aged 20 to 99 years without heart disease.
The average age of participants was 56 years and 43 per cent were women. Compared to never smokers, current smokers had thicker, weaker and heavier hearts. "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," said Holt.
Increasing pack-years were associated with pumping less blood. One pack-year is defined as 20 cigarettes smoked every day for one year. Furthermore, the researchers 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."
"This 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," the researchers noted.