“The time when a person starts smoking is a very important factor, but it is often ignored. We have found out that those people who start smoking very early are especially vulnerable to heart and vascular diseases. On the other hand, quitting tobacco as early as possible greatly reduces this risk. This is especially true for young people,” said Blake Thomson, one of the authors of the work, an epidemiologist at Oxford University (UK).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, heart and vascular diseases, including heart attacks, strokes and chronic heart failure, remain one of the leading causes of death on the planet; they kill about 17 million people every year. Moreover, most of these problems arise due to hypertension, a consistently high pressure in the blood vessels.
The organization's experts suggest that a significant proportion of heart attacks and strokes are associated with high blood pressure and bad habits. In theory, thanks to this knowledge, they can be prevented if the behavior and eating habits of people at risk are adjusted. Therefore, for the past two decades, biologists and physicians have been actively studying how different types of diet and types of food affect the typical level of pressure in arteries and veins and the rate of their overgrowth with cholesterol plaques.
Thomson and his colleagues have been the first to learn the probability of these problems, as well as premature death from heart disease is affected by when a person starts smoking. The scientists analyzed data collected as part of the nationwide surveys on US residents’ health (NHIS), which had been conducted from 1997 to 2014.
More than 400,000 Americans aged 25 to 74 in total took part in them. During the study, they answered questions about their health, bad habits and diseases. After analyzing these surveys’ data, Thomson and his colleagues compared them with the life expectancy and causes of death of NHIS participants. This helped the experts to evaluate how smoking affected their heart and blood vessels’ health.
This analysis confirmed that smokers were indeed several times more vulnerable to heart disease. The scientists also found an interesting trend that linked the time of starting smoking with likelihood of death from heart attacks, strokes and other severe consequences of disruption of the circulatory system.
For example, Americans who had started smoking at age 10 or even earlier died from these problems 4.8 to 5 times more often than their nonsmoking compatriots. Similarly, for smokers who became addicted to cigarettes between the ages of 10 and 14, the risk of death from heart and vascular problems was three times higher than normal, and for those who started smoking as early as 15-20 years or later, it was 2.5-2.8 times.
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