Heart Attack Risk 8 Times Higher in Young Smokers
Smoking increases the risk for a number of health problems—including heart attack and stroke—thats a well-known fact. But new research examines the link further—determining the association between a smoker's age and his or her risk for a particularly serious type of heart attack called ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction or STEMI.
According to the study, smokers under the age of 50 are more than eight times more likely than former smokers and non-smokers to suffer a ST-segmented elevation myocardial infarction. This type of heart attack occurs when one of the major arteries to the heart is suddenly and completely blocked, causing a large portion of heart tissue to die. The study also showed that STEMI heart attacks occur 10 to 11 years earlier, on average, in people who smoke.
STEMI risk appears to be inversely associated with age—the highest risk is in smokers under the age of 50 and the risk decreases with age to about three times higher in smokers over 65. Smoking may be the most important risk factor for heart attack—more important than high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, for example, as well as age—according to the study's authors.
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