Forbes (12/11, Husten) reports that a new study "from the Nurses' Health Study" published online Dec. 11 in Circulation: Arrhythmia & Electrophysiology, an American Heart Association journal, "provides new clarity about the relationship between smoking" and sudden cardiac death (SCD). Lead investigator Roopinder Sandhu and colleagues examined data from over 100,000 women who had no known cancer or cardiovascular disease. The article details that "during 30 years of followup there were 351 incident SCDs." Forbes adds that "compared to women who never smoked, the risk of SCD was significantly elevated in current smokers (relative risk 2.44) and former smokers (RR 1.40)."
HealthDay (12/12, Doheny) reports that the study suggests that "women who are light or moderate cigarette smokers -- lighting up as little as once a day -- still have an increased risk of sudden cardiac death." Lead researcher Dr. Roopinder Sandhu stated, "In our study we found small-to-moderate quantities, one to 14 cigarettes per day, were associated with almost a twofold higher risk of sudden cardiac death compared to women who never smoked." Further, the researchers found that "those who smoked 25 or more a day had more than triple the risk of sudden cardiac death."
Heartwire (12/12, Nainggolan) reports that "with respect to the total number of years smoking, Sandhu notes that 'every five years of continued smoking was associated with an almost 10% increase in SCD.'" Further, Dr. Sandhu adds that "importantly, SCD risk reduced over time with smoking cessation, equaling that of a never smoker after 20 years." She observes, "These are data supporting the fact that smoking cessation is an important modifiable risk factor and that women shouldn't wait until they develop heart disease to quit."
MedPage Today (12/12, Neale) reports that the study team "acknowledged some limitations of the study, including possible misclassification of cigarette consumption based on self-report, possible error in determining sudden cardiac death, the lack of information about the severity of coronary heart disease events during follow-up, and potential residual or unmeasured confounding." Additionally, the article notes that "the study population was mostly white, female nurses, and the findings may not apply to other groups." MedPage Today mentions that "the study was supported by research grants from the NIH and an Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Association to one of the authors." Also covering the story are BBC News (12/12, Roberts),WebMD (12/12, Warner), and the Daily Mail (UK) (12/12, Hope).