- With Mayo Clinic internist and director of the Nicotine Dependence Center
Richard D. Hurt, M.D.close window
Richard D. Hurt, M.D.
Risk factors (2)
- Calcium supplements: A risk factor for heart attack?
- Silent heart attack: What are the risks?
Tests and diagnosis (1)
- Ejection fraction: What does it measure?
- Vitamin D deficiency: Can it cause high blood pressure?
- Omega-6 fatty acids: Can they cause heart disease?
Treatments and drugs (1)
- Polypill: Does it treat heart disease?
Lifestyle and home remedies (1)
- Grass-fed beef: What are the heart-health benefits?
- Heart attack prevention: Should I avoid secondhand smoke?
- Healthy heart for life: Avoiding heart disease
- Fasting diet: Can it improve my heart health?
- see all in Prevention
Heart attack prevention: Should I avoid secondhand smoke?
Can secondhand smoke increase your risk of having a heart attack?
from Richard D. Hurt, M.D.
Secondhand smoke exposure is a risk factor for having a heart attack. It's thought that chemicals in secondhand smoke can irritate the lining of your arteries, causing them to swell (inflammation). This inflammation can narrow your arteries, increasing your risk of having a heart attack.
Breathing secondhand smoke can also cause the cells in your blood that are responsible for clotting (platelets) to increase in number, making your blood more likely to clot. Too many platelets can cause a clot to form that may block an artery, causing a heart attack or stroke.
Also, it appears that heart attack rates go down in areas after those areas pass smoking bans. If you smoke, the best way to reduce your heart attack risk is to quit. If you're regularly around smokers, encourage them to quit or smoke in outdoor areas that will reduce the amount of secondhand smoke others will breathe. This is especially important if you have had a previous heart attack or have been diagnosed with heart disease.Next question
Healthy heart for life: Avoiding heart disease
- Lightwood JM, et al. Declines in acute myocardial infarction after smoke-free laws and individual risk attributable to secondhand smoke. Circulation. 2009;120:1373.
- Pell JP, et al. Smoke-free legislation and hospitalizations for acute coronary syndrome. New England Journal of Medicine. 2009;359:482.
- Jefferis BJ, et al. Secondhand smoke (SHS) is associated with circulating markers of inflammation and endothelial function in adult men and women. Atherosclerosis. 2010;208:550.
- Secondhand Smoke exposure and cardiovascular effects: Making sense of the evidence. Institute of Medicine. http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2009/Secondhand-Smoke-Exposure-and-Cardiovascular-Effects-Making-Sense-of-the-Evidence.aspx. Accessed Jan. 16, 2012.
- Dove MS, et al. The impact of Massachusetts' smoke-free workplace laws on acute myocardial infarction deaths. American Journal of Public Health. 2010;100:2206.
- Mackay DF, et al. Meta-analysis of the effect of comprehensive smoke-free legislation on acute coronary events. Heart. 2010;96:1525.
- Bonetti PO, et al. Effect of brief secondhand smoke exposure on endothelial function and circulating markers of inflammation. Atherosclerosis. 2011;215:218.