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Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels

As little as 10 minutes of exposure changes cardiovascular function, researchers say

FRIDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Cardiovascular function can be affected by as little as 10 minutes exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke and other air pollutants such as wood smoke and smoke from cooking oil, say U.S. researchers.

There's increasing evidence that higher levels of air pollution are associated with an increase in heart attacks and deaths, according to background information in an American Physiological Society news release. Smoke pollutants contain fine particles that trigger responses in heart and blood vessels.

This University of Kentucky study included 40 healthy male and female nonsmokers, average age 35, who were exposed to the three types of smoke while they sat in a 10-by-10-foot chamber. While the volunteers were exposed to the smoke, their respiratory and cardiovascular function was measured by the researchers.

The results showed that exposure to smoke changed affected cardiovascular function, particularly in men. The findings were expected to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Physiological Society (APS), April 18-22, in New Orleans.

The study confirmed previous research that has shown that smoke harms cardiovascular function and extended those findings by showing that this harm can occur with lower levels of smoke and shorter exposure times.

"I was surprised we got statistically significant results with this low level of exposure. If we can detect these effects with smaller exposures, then the public health hazard from cigarettes and other particulate exposures may have been underestimated," study author Joyce McClendon Evans said in an APS news release.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about air pollution.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Physiological Society, news release, April 17, 2009

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