Occasional cigarette puff can also affect your arteries

October 8th, 2008 - 3:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 8 (IANS) Beware of an occasional puff, it can impair the functioning of your arteries, warns a University of Georgia study.Researchers used ultrasound to measure how the arteries of young, healthy adults respond to changes in blood flow.

“Most people know that if they have a cigarette or two over the weekend it’s not good for their arteries,” said study co-author Kevin McCully, a professor of kinesiology at the UG (Athens) College of Education.

“But what they may not be aware of - and what our study shows - is that the decrease in function persists into the next week, if not longer,” he said.

Previous studies have shown reductions in the arterial health of people who smoke regularly, McCully said, but what’s surprising about his finding is that the study subjects were occasional smokers (less than a pack a week) who had not smoked for at least two days before their ultrasound.

The study found that the arteries of occasional smokers were 36 percent less responsive to changes in blood flow than non-smokers, according to a university press release. The study appears in the early online edition of Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology.

McCully explained that the healthier an artery is, the more responsive it is to changes in blood flow. A reduction in responsiveness, known as impaired flow-mediated dilation, is an early sign of arterial damage that often foreshadows cardiovascular disease.

The researchers based their study on 18 college students, half of whom were non-smokers. The other half smoked less than a pack a week and had not smoked for at least two days before undergoing testing.

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