10-minute exposure to smoke enough to unsettle your heart

April 17th, 2009 - 3:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 17 (IANS) All it takes is a 10-minute exposure to smoke from tobacco, cooking oil or wood to send your heart into an overdrive, according to a study.
Accumulating evidence indicates that an increase in air pollution is linked with a surge in heart attack cases and deaths.

These pollutants, including tobacco and cooking oil smoke, contain fine particles that evoke responses from heart and blood vessels indicating effects on their function.

The study, led by Joyce Mcclendon Evans of the University of Kentucky, briefly exposed people to low levels of common pollutants and measured their cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory responses.

Forty healthy non-smokers (21 women, 19 men) with average age of 35 participated in the experiment.

The researchers exposed the participants to second hand cigarette smoke, wood smoke and cooking oil smoke in separate trials as they sat in a 10-by-10-foot environmental chamber. The researchers cleared the air in the chamber after each trial.

They measured respiratory and cardiovascular function, including heart rate variability, breathing and blood pressure. The study found that, particularly among men, exposure to smoke changed breathing patterns, raised blood pressure oscillations in peripheral arteries, said a Kentucky release.

“I was surprised we got statistically significant results with this low level of exposure,” Evans said.

“If we can detect these effects with smaller exposures, then the public health hazard from cigarettes and other particulate exposures may have been underestimated.”

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