Secondhand Smoke Damages Lining of Blood Vessels in 30 Minutes

Breathing secondhand smoke for as little as 30 minutes can affect a person’s cardiovascular health.

In a small study of healthy nonsmokers, researchers found that “the brachial artery – a major blood vessel in the upper arm and an indicator of cardiovascular health – failed to dilate optimally among those exposed to lingering secondhand smoke,”  according to a news release from the American College of Cardiology. The study appears in the May 22, 2012 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“Breathing in very low levels of secondhand smoke – the same amount many people and children would encounter out and about in the community – appears to impair one’s vascular function after just 30 minutes of exposure,” said Dr. Paul F. Frey, the study’s lead investigator from the division of cardiology at San Francisco General Hospital. “These findings have significant public health implications. We saw a steep decline in vascular function even after a very short exposure to low levels of secondhand smoke, and that’s very concerning.”

In the news release, Frey said health practitioners need to ask their patients not only whether they smoke but if they live or are occasionally around a smoker – even if they are not in the same room where smoking occurs.

“Smoking remains one of the most preventable risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” Frey said. “We hope this study will reinforce to smokers the dangers their habit has – not only for their own heart health – but also to other people – even if they move to the next room or smoke for short durations.”

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