Smoking may increase risk of artery swelling: study

Smoking may increase risk of artery swelling: study
Smoking may increase risk of artery swelling: study

WASHINGTON:  People who smoke may be nearly twice as likely to develop a potentially life-threating bulge in the large artery that supplies blood to the belly, pelvis and legs, than general population, a new study has warned.

However, smokers can lower their risk of the condition called as abdominal aortic aneurysm by quitting, said researchers from University of Minnesota in the US.

This bulging occurs without symptoms, unless the artery ruptures. If that happens, severe internal bleeding creates an extremely urgent medical situation.

“Our study quantified the lifetime risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm and found that it was far from trivial for smokers. And we quantified the benefit of quitting smoking, which turns out to be substantial,” said Weihong Tang, associate professor at the University of Minnesota.

The study looked at 15,792 people over the age of 45 enrolled in the national Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study.

After 22 years of follow-up, researchers identified 590 cases of a ruptured, surgically repaired or clinically diagnosed asymptomatic abdominal aortic aneurysm and 75 cases of asymptomatic aneurysms that were detected by an ultrasound screening.

The study found the lifetime risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm was one in 17 among all study participants and one in 9 among current smokers.

Researchers also found those who had quit smoking for 3-8 years (recent quitters) still had about 2.6 to 3.5 fold increased risk for both clinical and asymptomatic abdominal aortic aneurysm in the next 15 years compared to never smokers.

Their lifetime risk was 6.6 per cent higher than long-term quitters.

“Women who currently smoke have a similar risk as men who quit smoking; and yet, the task force does not recommend screening these women. This is important data that physicians and health policy makers should be aware of,” Tang said.

The study also found that being older, white, or having high levels of bad cholesterol also increased the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm.

“The strongest associations, however, remain with smoking. And the best preventive strategy to reduce abdominal aortic aneurysms in smokers is to stop smoking,” Tang said.

The study appears in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. (AGENCIES)


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