Posted on Mar 26, 2013, 6 a.m.
Non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke are more likely to develop early signs of heart disease.
Coronary artery calcification, a build-up of calcium in the artery walls as seen on a low-dose computed tomography scan, is a marker of heart disease. Harvey Hecht, from Mount Sinai Medical Center (New York, USA), and colleagues found that 26% of people exposed to varying levels of secondhand smoke exhibited signs of coronary artery calcification, as compared to 18.5% in the general population. As well, people who report higher levels of secondhand tobacco smoke exposure also have the greatest evidence of coronary artery calcification. The lead researcher comments that: "This research provides additional evidence that secondhand smoke is harmful and may be even more dangerous than we previously thought … We actually found the risk of secondhand smoke exposure to be an equivalent or stronger risk factor [for coronary artery calcification] than other well-established ones such as high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. Passive exposure to smoke seems to independently predict both the likelihood and extent of [coronary artery calcification]."
Harvey S. Hecht, David Yankelewitz, Claudia Henschke, Rowena Yip, Paolo Boffetta, Shemesh Shemesh, Matthew Cham, Jagat Narula. “Secondhand Tobacco Smoke in Never Smokers Is A Significant Risk Factor for Coronary Artery Calcification." Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Volume 61, Issue 10, Supplement, 12 March 2013, Page E1422.