Harvard Heart Letter

Beware the danger of secondhand smoke



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Secondhand smoke exposure raises the odds of developing heart disease by 25% to 30%. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year, about 34,000 people die from heart disease caused by secondhand smoke in the United States. But nonsmokers hospitalized with heart disease are rarely asked about this risk, according to a report published online in JAMAInternal Medicine on Nov. 10, 2014.

Of the 214 people in the study, 33 said they'd been exposed to other people's cigarette smoke within a week of being hospitalized. And while nearly all of the participants knew that secondhand smoke was harmful to nonsmokers, about half were "not at all" worried about their own exposure. Saliva testing for cotinine, a marker of nicotine exposure, found detectable levels in 29 of 72 people tested.

If you live, ride, or work with smokers, insist on a smoke-free environment for the sake of your own health.

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