Even moderate smoking associated with sudden death risk in women

December 11th, 2012 in Cardiology /

Women who are even light-to-moderate cigarette smokers may be significantly more likely than nonsmokers to suffer sudden cardiac death, according to new research in Circulation: Arrhythmia & Electrophysiology, an American Heart Association journal.

The findings indicate long-term smokers may be at even greater risk. But quitting smoking can reduce and eliminate the risk over time.

"Cigarette smoking is a known risk factor for sudden cardiac death, but until now, we didn't know how the quantity and duration of smoking effected the risk among apparently healthy women, nor did we have long-term follow-up," said Roopinder K. Sandhu, M.D., M.P.H., the study's lead author and a cardiac electrophysiologist at the University of Alberta's Mazankowski Heart Institute in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Researchers examined the incidence of sudden cardiac death among more than 101,000 healthy women in the Nurses' Health Study, which has collected biannual health questionnaires from female nurses nationwide since 1976. They included records dating back to 1980 with 30 years of follow-up. Most of the participants were white, and all were between 30 to 55 years old at the study's start. On average, those who smoked reported that they started in their late teens.

During the study, 351 participants died of sudden cardiac death.

Other findings include:

Sudden cardiac death results from the abrupt loss of heart function, usually within minutes after the heart stops. It's a primary cause of heart-related deaths, accounting for between 300,000-400,000 deaths in the United States each year.

"Sudden is often the first sign of heart disease among women, so lifestyle changes that reduce that risk are particularly important," said Sandhu, who is also a visiting scientist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass. "Our study shows that cigarette smoking is an important modifiable risk factor for among all . Quitting before develops is critical."

Provided by American Heart Association

"Even moderate smoking associated with sudden death risk in women." December 11th, 2012. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-12-moderate-sudden-death-women.html