News | November 20, 2014

Oxford University Study at AHA Shows Extent of Vascular Damage Caused by Smoking

The researchers found that smokers were 12 times more likely than non-smokers to develop an abdominal aortic aneurism

Oxford clinical study, American Heart Association, abdominal aortic aneurism

Photo courtesy of Portable Networks Graphics

November 20, 2014 — Oxford University researchers presented data that reveal the extent to which smoking causes silent but deadly damage to health at the annual scientific meeting of the American Heart Association (AHA).

Working with Life Line Screening’s database of several million U.S. adults, Oxford researchers looked at people without symptoms who attended the company’s screening service. The researchers found that smokers were 12 times more likely than non-smokers to develop an abdominal aortic aneurism.

They also found that rates of aortic aneurysms were 12 times higher, leg circulation problems seven times higher and carotid artery narrowing five times higher in current smokers compared to those who have never smoked. 

“Smokers are much more likely to develop life-threatening vascular problems,” said Richard Bulbulia, M.D., who led the study.

The researchers used screening data from 3.1 million U.S. adults who underwent four non-invasive procedures: ultrasound of the carotid artery, ultrasound of the aorta, an ECG to help determine stroke risk and blood pressure in the arms and legs to assess circulation. The results are being presented today at the AHA Annual Meeting in Chicago and show the importance of cigarette smoking as a risk factor for these asymptomatic, silent conditions.

The work will also help determine the importance of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity for these ‘silent’ vascular conditions, helping to prevent significant disease and premature death from vascular disease.

This work is funded by a Henry Goodger Fellowship, and CTSU receives core funding from the British Heart Foundation, UK Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK.

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