April 12, 2007 / 7:36 PM / 13 years ago

Smoking affects heart of even the young and fit

Cigarette ends are pictured in a large public ashtray in Hanover March 18, 2007. Young adult smokers may seem healthy, but smoking is taking its toll on their heart, a research team in Poland reports. Chronic smoking appears to impair the ability of the heart to relax between beats, resulting in decreased pumping capacity. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Young adult smokers may seem healthy, but smoking is taking its toll on their heart, a research team in Poland reports. Chronic smoking appears to impair the ability of the heart to relax between beats, resulting in decreased pumping capacity.

There is little information regarding the effects of smoking on cardiac function in young adults, Dr. Barbara Lichodziejewska and associates at Warsaw Medical University note in their article in the medical journal Chest.

The researchers used ultrasound to look at heart function in response to smoking among 66 healthy, slim adults, aged 20 to 40 years. Thirty-three had smoked 10-25 cigarettes per day for 6-20 years. Among the smoking group, tests were performed after a 2-hour non-smoking period, then repeated immediately after smoking.

The results showed multiple abnormalities among smokers indicating impairment of relaxation of the left ventricle, the main pumping chamber of the heart, Lichodziejewska and colleagues report.

These changes are significant, the authors suggest, because impairment of ventricular relaxation is the first stage of serious heart dysfunction.

SOURCE: Chest, April 2007.

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