Risk of Heart Rhythm Disorder Rises with Cigarettes Smoked
A study has found that there is a 14% increase in the risk of developing a heart rhythm disorder for every 10 cigarettes a person smokes a day.
The study found that the risk increased in line with the number of cigarettes smoked.
Atrial fibrillation is a common heart condition that causes the heart to beat irregularly or too fast. Around one million people in the UK suffer from it. It is more common in people over the age of 65.
The condition causes dizziness, shortness of breath and tiredness. It is usually treated with medication. There is evidence that people with atrial fibrillation have an increased risk of heart disease, heart failure and stroke.
Smoking and heart problems
This study by the European Society of Cardiology looked at the link between smoking and atrial fibrillation. Previous studies have shown a link between the two, but have not looked at whether the risk is impacted by the number of cigarettes people smoke.
Linear increase in risk
The researchers searched databases and analysed 29 previous studies from around the world. They found that people who currently smoke have a 32% increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation compared to those who have never smoked. For former smokers, there was a 9% increase in risk.
Significantly, they also found that there was a clear relationship between increasing number of cigarettes smoked per day and the risk of developing heart rhythm disorder: a 14% increase in risk for every 10 cigarettes smoked a day.
Compared to not smoking any cigarettes, smoking 10 cigarettes a day increased the risk of atrial fibrillation by 17%; smoking 20 cigarettes increased the risk by 32%; and smoking 29 cigarettes increased the risk by 45%.
The research also looked at ‘pack-years’ – multiplying the number of packs of cigarettes smoked a day by the number of years the person has smoked. They found that every 10 pack-years of smoking increased the risk of atrial fibrillation by 16%.
The report of the analysis, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, concludes: “Our findings have important clinical and public health implications as they provide evidence of a dose–response relationship between the increasing number of cigarettes smoked and the risk of atrial fibrillation, but also evidence of a reduced risk among former smokers compared to current smokers.”
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