October 11, 2011
Smokers Experience Heart Attacks Earlier
A new study suggests that smokers suffer heart attacks years before their non-smoking counterparts.
Researchers from the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor studied 3,600 people who were hospitalized with a heart attack or unstable angina — pain due to low blood flow to the heart, which is often a precursor to a heart attack.
They found that 25 percent of the heart patients were current smokers who were, on average, younger and with fewer health problems than the non-smokers with heart troubles, according to a Reuters report.
The non-smoking men were 64 years old, on average, at hospital admission, compared to 55 years old for male smokers. Among female heart patients, the average ages were 70 for non-smokers and 57 for smokers.
The smokers were also less likely to have other health problems often linked to heart risks, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, the researchers reported.
However, the findings also revealed that smokers were less likely to die in the six months following a heart attack than non-smokers, with five percent of male non-smokers dying in the following six months, compared with just three percent of male smokers.
Among women, eight percent of non-smokers died within six months of a heart attack, compared with six percent of female smokers.
The researchers attributed the paradox to age and other risk factors.
The study also showed that female smokers were more likely than male smokers to have a second heart attack, or other heart-related problems, in the three months after an initial attack or angina.
The study was published online September 15, 2011, in the American Journal of Cardiology.
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