NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Smoking raises the risk of non-fatal heart attacks by about fivefold in adults between 35 and 39 years of age, according to a report in the journal Tobacco Control.
The findings are based on an analysis of data from the Multinational Monitoring of Trends and Determinants in Cardiovascular Disease (MONICA) project, which was established by the World Health Organization (news – web sites). More than 65,000 men and 66,000 women participated in a survey of heart attack risk factors.
Between 1985 and 1994, more than 22,000 heart attacks and related events were noted among subjects in the MONICA project, which included people between 35 and 64 years of age from 21 countries.
Among adults under 40 who experienced a heart attack, smoking was noted in 81 percent of men and in 77 percent of women, lead author Dr. Markku Mahonen, from KTL-National Public Health Institute in Helsinki, and colleagues note. The rate of smoking among heart attack patients fell with increasing age to 45 and 36 percent in men and women, respectively, between 60 and 64 years.
In the under-40 age group, current smoking increased the risk of heart attack by 4.9-fold in men and by 5.3-fold in women relative to non-smoking.
“Our data indicate that 50 percent of non-fatal (heart attacks) in men and women younger than 50 years would be preventable if smoking cessation programs were successful,” the authors state. “Every effort should be put to use to make young people realize the true and imminent risk of smoking.”
SOURCE: Tobacco Control, September 2004.