There was a recent article published in the September issue of American Journal of Cardiology regarding smokers who had suffered heart attacks. The authors wanted to investigate why smokers who have heart attacks tend to live longer after their first event than non-smokers. What they found was that smokers who have heart attacks are actually younger than non-smokers. In other words, smoking is associated with having a heart attack at a younger age – earlier in life than you would otherwise, if at all.
The study found another surprising result. Women who smoke are much more likely to have complications and events up to six months after a heart attack than men who smoke. It is unclear why smoking is more potent in women, but the thought is that it is due to physiological differences in the formation of heart disease. The same differences that explain responses to treatments and diagnostics in women versus men may explain the effects of tobacco. Women tend to have plaque build up in the whole artery tree rather than in clumps or discreet areas the way it happens in most men. Women also tend to have “small vessel disease” affecting the small branches of branches of their main arteries. All of these things are under investigation to help in the treatment and prevention of heart disease in women.
Until we know more – and even after – the bottom line is that smoking is just bad. Now is a good time to quit.