October 24, 2016
2 min read

Quitting smoking at working age may reduce CVD risk to same level as never-smokers

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Among the working-age population in Finland, past or present smoking appears to have clinically minor significance on individual CVD risk factors, researchers reported.

“Quitting smoking in working age may thus reduce calculated CVD risk nearly to the same level with people who have never smoked,” the researchers wrote in Open Heart.

Using data from Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 project, the researchers conducted a population-based cohort study to evaluate sex-specific CVD risk factors in relation to smoking status at age 46 years, which was considered working age in Finland. Data from the participants were collected at age 31 years and age 46 years (n = 3,548 participants with follow-up data from time ages). Individual CVD risk factors, Framingham risk score and Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation (SCORE) were used to calculate absolute CVD event risk in the next decade, according to the study.

The researchers found no significant difference in CVD risk between never-smokers, those who recently stopped smoking and former smokers. Among men, mean Framingham risk score at age 46 years was 7.5% among never-smokers, 7.4% among recent quitters and 8.1% among former smokers vs. 14.7% among current smokers. Among women, mean Framingham risk score at age 46 years was 3.3% among never-smokers, 3% among recent quitters and 3.2% among former smokers vs. 5.9% among current smokers. The researchers also reported an association between smoking and increased risk for a fatal CVD event using the SCORE equation for women and men.

When the researchers analyzed changes in smoking behavior over time, they found that more than 80% of participants who stopped smoking before the first follow-up at age 30 years remained nonsmokers at the second follow-up at age 46 years.

Overall, participants who reported smoking had an increased BMI and waist circumference compared with never-smokers. Among men, current smokers had higher total cholesterol and triglycerides compared with never-smokers. Among women, current smokers had a poorer lipid profile, higher LDL and triglycerides, and lower HDL compared with never-smokers. Women who were current smokers or recently quit smoking were more likely to use hypolipidemic medication. Among men, former smokers had the highest systolic and diastolic BP levels and were more likely to use antihypertensive medication then never-smokers and recent quitters. Among women, the highest systolic BP levels were observed among never-smokers. The rate of type 2 diabetes was similar in male former and current smokers, and there was no difference observed in women.

“Many risk factors were elevated among smokers in comparison with never-smokers or to the groups of participants who had quit smoking,” the researchers wrote. “However, these major differences were modest and are not likely to have major clinical implications.” – by Cassie Homer

Disclosure: One of the researchers reports being an employee of a medical agency that serves several pharmaceutical companies. Please see the full study for a list of all researchers’ relevant financial disclosures.