According to a 10-year study conducted by Harvard researchers, passive smoking doubles the risk of heart disease, making it more dangerous than active smoking. Further research conducted by scientists at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, reveals heart attack cases in work places have dropped 33% in Olmstead County, Minnesota after enactment of the smoke-free workplace laws. The laws were put in place to reduce the secondhand smoke inhalation rate, which is more dangerous than active smoking.
The author of the Mayo Clinic study, Dr. Richard D. Hurt, said that this could be a considerable step in determining whether passive smoking is a potential risk factor for heart attacks. The research was conducted by studying the number of heart attacks before and after the ban. When cases of diabetes, hypertension, obesity and high cholesterol remained constant or even a bit higher, it was noted that heart attacks reduced sharply.
There are 5 main reasons why heart attack rates have dropped with the new laws in place:
Reduction in coronary heart disease
Non-smokers who have been exposed to passive smoking have developed coronary heart disease. Medical research shows that the effects of passive smoking on the cardiovascular system are almost as damaging as that of active smoking. This means that non-smokers are nearly as likely to experience coronary heart disease as active smokers due to secondhand inhalation. The smoke-free laws have helped prevent more people from inhaling secondhand smoke, thus reducing the number of coronary heart disease infections and heart attacks.
Reduction of risk factors
Smoke from tobacco is rich in carbon monoxide. This gas reduces the amount of oxygen in blood vessels, causing vital organs like the heart to receive limited oxygen supply. The smoke also contains nicotine, which rapidly increases heart rate and blood pressure. Ultimately, the system undergoes wear and tear, making one vulnerable to heart and respiratory diseases. With reduced exposure comes reduced risk factors.
Fewer exposed people
The rate of heart attacks is derived from the number of reported and documented cases. Having the smoke-free laws in place limit the number of people exposed. A World Health Organization news release shows that the number of people protected from secondhand inhalation has doubled from 354 million to 739 million. The fewer the number of people subjected to secondhand inhalation, the fewer the cases of heart attack.
Decrease in blood clot tendency
Tobacco smoke can trigger blood clotting. People exposed to secondhand smoke are actually at higher risk for this than active smokers. The smoke from the end of the cigarette combined with smoke exhaled from the smoker’s lungs combine to release irritants that cause the blood to clot. The heart vessels are blocked by the clotting, causing a heart attack.
Eradication of both long-term and short-term exposure effects
Studies show that long-term passive smoking effects are 30% more serious than short-term exposure. Before the enactment of the law, secondhand inhalation had long-term effects on people who worked in the same environment for long durations and were exposed on a constant, daily basis. However, having the laws implemented has helped prevent others from both long-term and short-term impacts since they are now completely protected from secondhand smoke.