Just One Cigarette Stiffens Arteries

Just One Cigarette Stiffens Arteries

Reported October 30, 2009

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Canadian researchers say smoking even one time significantly stiffens the arteries and negatively influences the body’s ability to cope with physical stress.

Young adults ages 18 to 35 who smoke as little as one cigarette increase the stiffness of their arteries by 25 percent, a new study suggests, increasing risk of heart disease and stroke.

Researchers measured the arterial stiffness of both young adult smokers (five to six cigarettes daily) and non-smokers with a test that measured arteries’ response to the stress of exercise. An initial test was given to both groups to establish baselines, where smokers were asked not to smoke for 12 hours prior to the test. Smokers were then asked to smoke one cigarette before the test, and chew one piece of nicotine gum before a third test.



During the baseline test, non-smokers reduced their arterial stiffness by 3.6 percent after exercise. Even with a 12-hour tobacco abstinence window before the test, smokers still increased their arterial stiffness after exercise by 2.2 percent. When exercising after one piece of nicotine chewing gum, stiffness increased by 12.6 percent. One cigarette raised stiffness by 24.5 percent.

“In effect, this means that even light smoking in otherwise young healthy people can damage the arteries, compromising the ability of their bodies to cope with physical stress, such as climbing a set of stairs or running to catch a bus,“ Dr. Stella Daskalopoulou was quoted as saying. “It seems that this compromise to respond to physical stress occurs first, before the damage of the arteries becomes evident at rest.”

In addition to stiffening arteries, smoking increases plaque buildup in the arteries, increases risk of blood clots and high blood pressure, reduces oxygen in the blood and doubles the risk of ischemic stroke.

SOURCE: Presented at the 2009 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress by Dr. Stella Daskalopoulou