Smoke-Free Air – Protect your heart from secondhand smoke


An independent report released by the Institute of Medicine on secondhand smoke exposure and heart disease clearly confirms that secondhand smoke could cause heart attacks; smoke-free bans prevent them and save lives.

Secondhand Smoke and Heart Disease

Nonsmoking adults who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their risk of coronary heart disease by 25–30%. In addition, exposure to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system. Secondhand smoke changes how your heart, blood, and blood vessels work in many ways. Studies have shown that brief exposure to secondhand smoke causes your blood platelets to stick together. It also damages the lining of your blood vessels. In your heart, these bad changes can cause a deadly heart attack.

What does the report say?

The report concludes that:

>Exposure to secondhand smoke could cause acute coronary events, such as a heart attack.

>Evidence suggests that even brief secondhand smoke exposure might trigger a heart attack.

>Smoke-free bans decrease acute coronary events.

What does this report mean to me?

This report directly links secondhand smoke to acute coronary events, including heart attacks. Exposing yourself to secondhand smoke has immediate effects on the cardiovascular system and might even place you at risk of experiencing a heart attack.

How can I lower my risk and protect my family?

To protect yourself and your family, there are important steps you can take:

>Don’t smoke or allow smoking indoors or in a vehicle, at anytime.

>Visit only those restaurants and businesses that are 100% smoke-free. Separate “no smoking” sections DO NOT completely protect you from secondhand smoke. Neither does filtering the air or opening a window.

>Encourage your community leaders to implement policies that make all indoor workplaces and public places, including restaurants, bars, and casinos, smoke-free.

>Take special precautions to ensure that family members who have heart disease or risk factors for heart disease avoid secondhand smoke exposure.

>The most effective way to protect yourself and your family is to quit smoking. In addition to the negative effects of secondhand smoke on the heart, smoking is also a major risk factor for heart disease.

How many Americans are at risk?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

An estimated 80 million American adults have one or more types of cardiovascular disease.

More than 900,000 heart attacks occur in the U.S. every year.

Nearly 3 of 4 U.S. adults have at least one major cardiovascular risk factor.

More than half of people who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.

One in four U.S. indoor workers is still not protected by a complete smoke-free workplace policy. Blue collar and service workers are especially likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke on the job.

Almost three in five Americans do not live under comprehensive state or local laws that make workplaces, restaurants, and bars smoke-free.


October 2009 Institute of Medicine Report: Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence


Cardiovascular Effects of Secondhand Smoke Exposure

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More Information

Secondhand Smoke

Health Effects of Tobacco Smoke

Quit Smoking

Heart Disease

Content source: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Office on Smoking and Health


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