Sunday, January 31, 2016

Would Secondhand Smoke Raise Atrial Fibrillation Risk?

Smoking is bad for the health as it is linked to development of many chronic diseases including lung cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Secondhand smoke, also known as passive smoking, is equally bad for the body. Every year, it causes about 34,000 deaths from heart disease and 7,300 deaths from lung cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).

On September 1, 2015, researchers from the University of California published a paper online in the journal ‘HeartRhythm’ indicating that people exposed to secondhand smoke in the womb or as children are at a higher risk later in life for atrial fibrillation.

Being an irregular heart rhythm, atrial fibrillation has been shown by previous studies to be linked to smoking, but the association with secondhand smoke exposure was unclear. Atrial fibrillation causes the heart's upper and lower chambers to stop working together. The condition is one of the most common causes of stroke, and can cause chest pain and heart failure, too. It affects millions of Americans and it nearly doubles mortality.

The researchers used data from 4,976 people participating in an Internet-based study on heart health to analyze their exposure to secondhand smoke to see if they had atrial fibrillation. 11.9 percent of participants reported having atrial fibrillation.

After accounting for factors that might have affected the participants’ risks for atrial fibrillation, including age, sex, race, other health conditions, and smoking and alcohol use, they found that adults had 37 percent higher chances of atrial fibrillation if either of their parents smoked while the mother was pregnant. The adults had 40 percent higher risks if they lived with a smoker as a child. The risk was even higher among people who did not have other risk factors for atrial fibrillation.

Results of the findings surprised many health, particularly because the risk starts rising even as the baby is developing in the mother's womb. It seems likely that toxins in tobacco smoke could have a direct impact on development of the heart's electrical system.

Parents’ should really think twice of the consequence of the profound effect of their smoking. As such, smokers are encouraged to talk to their doctor about therapies available to help them quit if they plan to have children.

While quitting smoking is never easy, it can still be done. Smokers absolutely must find a way to quit if they want to give their children the best possible chance at a healthy childhood as well as a healthy adulthood.

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