Smokers' family at risk of stroke
SCIENTISTS have identified how parents who smoke make their children more likely to have heart disease or a stroke.
In teenagers who lived with smoking parents, chemicals in the blood that encourage clotting were at levels a third higher than average and there were lower levels of the body's natural clot dissolvers. The study is the first to show these negative effects, which increase the risk of heart disease, in non-smokers.
"The blood-clotting factors, not previously evaluated in passive smokers, have been recently found to be good predictors of future cardiovascular disease, such as heart attacks," said the report, presented yesterday to the European Society of Cardiology in Amsterdam. The researchers, cardiologists from the University of Athens Medical School, said that although the risk of heart disease was much lower for passive smokers than for smokers, young people were especially vulnerable to its effects and parents should make homes smoke-free.
It is estimated that smoking causes a fifth of all heart disease deaths. Being a smoker doubles the risk of heart disease, mainly because it makes the blood more likely to clot.
The cardiologists studied 30 boys and girls in their late teens who had been living with one or two smoking parents for at least ten years. Their blood was compared with teenagers of non-smoking parents. None of the teenagers smoked, but the passive smokers had significantly higher levels of blood-clotting chemicals.
Clive Bates, director of Action on Smoking and Health, said: "The effect of smoking on heart disease is the great untold story simply because the circulation is so sensitive."