Kick the butt: Non-smokers too at risk from second-hand smoke, says study | health and fitness | Hindustan Times
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Kick the butt: Non-smokers too at risk from second-hand smoke, says study

Healthy non-smokers exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke are at an increased risk of developing coronary atherosclerosis, warns a senior cardiologist in Delhi.

health and fitness Updated: Nov 23, 2016 13:00 IST
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A ban on smoking in public places came into effect across India eight years ago -- but India still remains home to 12% of the world’s smokers and they with their second-hand smoke pose a threat to those who don’t smoke.

Healthy non-smokers exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke are at an increased risk of developing coronary atherosclerosis, warns a senior cardiologist here, citing earlier findings which new studies have bolstered. Investigators have observed a dose-response relationship between second-hand smoke exposure and atherosclerosis as documented by CT angiography, said Dr (Col) Anil Dhall, Director of Cardiovascular Sciences at Delhi’s Venkateshwar Hospital.

The “extent and importance of second-hand tobacco smoke exposure as a major global health issue cannot be overestimated”, say researchers. In their analysis, low-to-moderate and high exposure to second-hand smoke remained major risk-markers. Indeed, it appeared to be a more powerful predictor of coronary atherosclerosis than traditional risk factors such as diabetes, hyperlipidemia -- an elevation of one or more fat proteins in the blood; commonly referred to as high cholesterol -- and hypertension.

The findings were based on data compiled by the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US. The data showed second-hand smoke as an important modifiable risk-factor for cardiovascular and other diseases. Second-hand exposure remains under-appreciated as a risk factor amongst doctors and patients, and is something that needs to be looked at in people’s medical history and is really not asked that often, researchers said.

Atherosclerosis -- sometimes called hardening of the arteries -- can also slowly narrow the arteries throughout the body. When atherosclerosis affects coronary arteries, it becomes the No.1 killer. Most of those deaths are from heart attacks caused by blood clots. In a study using CT angiography, the presence of any coronary calcified plaque was significantly associated with second-hand smoke exposure.

The analysis showed that individuals exposed to low-to-moderate levels of second-hand smoke were approximately two times more likely to develop atherosclerosis compared with those who had minimal second-hand smoke exposure. For those exposed to high levels of second-hand smoke, the risk of atherosclerosis was 3.5 times higher when compared with those exposed to minimal second-hand smoke.