An American has a heart attack nearly every 25 seconds, resulting in death about every minute, but those who smoke are not the only ones at risk.
Now, a landmark report from the Institute of Medicine entitiled, Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence, confirms breathing secondhand smoke boosts nonsmokers' risk for heart problems, adding that indirect evidence indicates that even relatively brief exposures could lead to a heart attack is compelling.
Even before the new IOM report, there was already conclusive evidence that secondhand smoke causes death and disease, while smoke-free laws protect health and save lives.
Data on particulate matter in smoke from other pollution sources suggest that a relatively brief exposure to such substances can initiate a heart attack, and particulate matter is a major component of secondhand smoke.
The committee reviewed 11 key studies that showed that exposure to secondhand smoke appears to increase the risk of heart disease by about 25 to 30 percent among nonsmokers. In the United States alone, secondhand smoke is estimated to be responsible for approximately 46,000 deaths from heart disease, 3,400 lung cancer deaths, 150,000 to 300,000 lung infections, including pneumonia and bronchitis in children, an increase in the severity of asthma attacks from about 200,000 to 1 million in children with asthma, and more than 750,000 middle ear infections in children.
The report concludes smoke-free laws reduce the number of heart attacks and save lives.
Nonsmokers, do you want to continue meekly accepting the risk of secondhand smoke?
Our next postings will show you how you can help a smoker quit.
Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence. The Institute of Medicine, 2009
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