Second-Hand Smoke is Bad for Your Heart

Passive smoking is linked with hypertension, finds a new large study.
Loukia Papadopoulos

We all know smoking is bad for you but it seems its effects extend to those surrounding the smokers. New research has showed an increased risk of hypertension due to second-hand smoke.

Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke

"Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke regardless of whether the smoker is still in the room," said study author Professor Byung Jin Kim, of Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Republic of Korea. "Our study in non-smokers shows that the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) is higher with longer duration of passive smoking - but even the lowest amounts are dangerous."

Second-hand smoke at home or work was associated with a 13% increased risk of hypertension while living with a smoker after age 20 was associated with a 15% greater risk. Meanwhile, exposure to passive smoking for ten years or more was related to a 17% increased risk of hypertension.

The risk did not change according to gender as men and women were both equally affected. The study further found that those who exhibited hypertension were significantly more likely to have been exposed to second-hand smoke. 

The first large study

The study is the first large study of 131,739 never-smokers to evaluate the association between secondhand smoke and hypertension in never-smokers. The research tested urinary levels of cotinine, the principal metabolite of nicotine. 

"The results suggest that it is necessary to keep completely away from secondhand smoke, not just reduce exposure, to protect against hypertension," said Professor Kim.

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"While efforts have been made around the world to minimise the dangers of passive smoking by expanding no smoking areas in public places, our study shows that more than one in five never-smokers are still exposed to secondhand smoke. Stricter smoking bans are needed, together with more help for smokers to kick the habit. Knowing that family members suffer should be extra motivation for smokers to quit," he said

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