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Study finds smokers have thicker and weaker hearts


Photo: ljubaphoto/iStockphoto

Need another reason to kick your smoking habit? Continuing to light up can thicken your heart and make it weaker over time, say Danish researchers.

The researchers looked at data from nearly 3,900 people in the 5th Copenhagen City Heart Study. The participants – who didn’t have heart disease – completed a questionnaire that asked about smoking history and the estimated number of cigarettes smoked throughout life. Additionally, an ultrasound of each participant’s heart was taken to analyze its structure and functioning.

Compared with the participants who had never smoked, current smokers had thicker, weaker and heavier hearts. An increase in cigarettes smoked was associated with a heart that pumped less blood. Over a 10-year follow-up period, these conditions had worsened for the current smokers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking can lead to cardiovascular disease even among people who smoke as few as five cigarettes a day. More than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking, and 480,000 deaths a year in the United States are attributed to cigarette smoking, data from the CDC shows.

The good news? According to the researchers, some of the damage can be reversed by quitting smoking.

“The more you smoke, the worse your heart function becomes,” researcher Eva Holt of Herlev and Gentofte Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark said in a press release from the European Society of Cardiology. “The heart can recuperate to some degree with smoking cessation, so it is never too late to quit.”

The study was presented during the ESC Congress 2022, which took place in Barcelona, Spain.

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