Published: Fri, December 02, 2016
Medical | By Garry George

Highest Increase in Acute STEMI Risk for Youngest Smokers

Highest Increase in Acute STEMI Risk for Youngest Smokers

It found smokers under the age of 50 were eight times more likely as non-smokers to suffer a major heart attack, making them the most vulnerable of any age group of smokers.

Researchers including those from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom drew on data for 1,727 adults undergoing treatment for a classic type of heart attack known as a STEMI between 2009 and 2012.

To find out, a team of researchers led by Ever Grech of The South Yorkshire Cardiothoracic Centre at Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, England, examined data from 1,727 adults who underwent treatment for a common type of heart attack - known by the acronym STEMI - between 2009 and 2012.

Researchers also used data from the Office for National Statistics Integrated Household Survey (ONS-IHS), for the South Yorkshire region that collects information on the prevalence of smoking in the region.

For the study, published online in the journal Heart, the team drew on data for 1,727 adults among which nearly half (48.5 per cent) were current smokers, with roughly a quarter (just over 27 per cent) former smokers, and a quarter (just over 24 per cent) non-smokers. Also, other research has shown that the fatty deposits in the arteries of smokers are more likely to rupture.

And, along with ex-smokers, current smokers were twice as likely as non-smokers to have had previous episodes of coronary artery disease.

But the analysis by Grech and colleagues is the first to compare the incidence of STEMI in young smokers and non-smokers using local population data as a denominator.

This risk fell with increasing age, dropping to a 5-fold difference among 50-65-year-olds, and a 3-fold difference among the over 65s.

The researchers found that smokers under the age of 50 are the most vulnerable across all age groups of smokers with their chances of suffering a heart attack being eight times higher than non-smokers.

The findings are surprising because younger men and women typically do not have as numerous health problems - diabetes, high blood pressure or cholesterol - associated with an increased chance of heart failure.

In a linked editorial, cardiologist Dr. Yaron Arbel, of the Tel-Aviv Medical Center in Israel, further insists on the need for prevention campaigns aimed at the younger age groups.

"From our data alone, it is hard to explain the much higher risk of acute STEMI imparted by smoking on the youngest patients and raises important questions as to why this should occur", the researchers wrote.

"Our goal should be on providing them with tools to achieve (tobacco) abstinence", Arbel wrote, adding that smoking reduction should be considered a worthwhile goal in younger patients who are unable or unwilling to stop smoking completely.

"It is recognized that the youngest populations tend to demonstrate fewer risk factors such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia or diabetes and this has been demonstrated in young STEMI patients who smoke".

"Therefore studies like the present one are especially important".

The findings have prompted calls for more effort to encourage younger smokers stub out their habit.

"In hard cases, even reducing the number of cigarettes smoked daily might make a difference".

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