"This research provides additional evidence that secondhand smoke is harmful and may be even more dangerous than we previously thought," said Harvey Hecht, MD, associate director of cardiac imaging and professor of medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center and study author.
"We actually found the risk of secondhand smoke exposure to be an equivalent or stronger risk factor [for CAC] than other well-established ones such as high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes.
Passive exposure to smoke seems to independently predict both the likelihood and extent of CAC."
After adjusting for other cardiovascular risk factors, people classified as having low, moderate or high secondhand smoke exposure were 50, 60 and 90 percent more likely to have evidence of coronary artery calcification than those who reported minimal exposure.
The apparent health effects of secondhand smoke on CAC remained regardless of whether the exposure was during childhood or adulthood.
said these results further underscore the need for enforceable public smoking bans and other measures to reduce passive inhalation of cigarette smoke.
"Tobacco smoke can damage the coronary arteries of nonsmokers through many different ways, which can lead to plaque formation and then to heart attacks, so this lends more [credence] to enforcing smoking bans," Dr. Hecht
team did not use the standard Agatston score to assess CAC, Dr. Hecht
said this study further validates the utility of low-dose non-gated CT scans to measure the amount of plaque in the coronary arteries in nonsmokers exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke.
"By using this [imaging/approach], people who have been exposed to tobacco smoke can be evaluated for lung cancer, emphysema and coronary artery disease in a single low-dose scan," he
will present the study "Secondhand Tobacco Smoke in Never Smokers is a Significant Risk Factor for Coronary Artery Calcification" on Sunday, March 10 at 11:45 a.m., Moscone Center
, West, Room 3004.