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Echocardiograms Show Heart Changes in Older Smokers


Imaging with echocardiograms show changes in the ventricular structure in older smokers.

Echocardiographic imaging shows signs of subtle thickening in left ventricular structure in the hearts of elderly patients who smoke, according to a study published in the Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging.

Researchers from Portugal and the United States evaluated the relationship between smoking and echocardiographic measures among 4,580 elderly subjects who were free of overt coronary heart disease or heart failure, and who were participating in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study.

The subjects were classified into three categories, based on self-reported smoking habits:

Never smokers (43.2%)

Former smokers (50%)

Current smokers (6.3%)

All subjects underwent testing for hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease, heart failure, low-density and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, and echocardiography. Alcohol consumption was also recorded.

The results showed that compared with never smokers, current smokers had noticeable cardiac structure differences:

LV mass index
76.7±0.4 g/m2
LV mass/volume ratio
1.83±0.03 g/mL
Prevalence of LV hypertrophy
Diastolic function
E/E′ ratio: 11.7±0.2
E/E′ ratio: 10.9±0.1





Former smokers showed similar echocardiographic features when compared with never smokers. In addition, estimated pack-years and years of smoking, and measures of cumulative cigarette exposure, were associated with greater LV mass index, LV mass/volume ratio, and worse diastolic function (higher E/E′ ratio) in current smokers after multivariable analysis.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"52096","attributes":{"alt":"Cigarette","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_9053214384867","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"6456","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 170px; width: 170px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"©BestVector083/Shutterstock.com","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

“We found that active smoking and cumulative cigarette exposure were associated with higher LV mass, LV mass/volume ratio, and worse diastolic function in an elderly, community-based population free of overt coronary artery disease and heart failure,” the authors wrote. “These findings suggest that active smoking is associated with subtle alterations in LV structure and function, which might help explain the higher risk of heart failure reported for smokers independent of coronary artery disease.”

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