Study Links Secondhand Smoke to Peripheral Artery Disease in Women

Secondhand smoke significantly increased the risk of women developing peripheral artery disease (PAD) in a Chinese study, researchers reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

In a population-based study of 1,209 women in Beijing, China, researchers found a 67 percent increased risk of PAD in those exposed to secondhand smoke compared to those who were not exposed. The women were 60 years and older and had never smoked. Of these women, 39.5 percent were exposed to secondhand smoke at home or in the workplace.

Secondhand smoke exposure was defined as exposure to another person’s tobacco smoke for at least 15 minutes daily for more than one day every week for at least two years during the past 10 years.

“This is the first study to show the adverse effects of secondhand smoke on peripheral artery disease in women,” said Yao He, M.D., Ph.D., the study’s lead author and professor of epidemiology at the Chinese PLA General Hospital in Beijing.

Researchers also found the risk of ischemic stroke increased by 56 percent, while the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) increased by 69 percent compared to those who were never exposed to secondhand smoke.

“This study broadens the finding about the detrimental health effects of passive smoking on heart disease and stroke,” said Frank Hu, M.D., Ph.D., the study’s senior author and professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass.

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