Smok­ing ban slashes toll of heart attacks

Daily Mail - - sandra Parsons - By Jenny Hope Med­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent j.hope@dai­ly­mail.co.uk

THE num­ber heart attacks has fallen dra­mat­i­cally since the smok­ing ban came in, fig­ures re­veal.

At least 1,200 heart attacks were pre­vented in Eng­land in the year af­ter the ban’s in­tro­duc­tion, ac­cord­ing to a re­port in the Bri­tish Med­i­cal Jour­nal.

In the largest study of its kind, in­for­ma­tion on adult heart at­tack pa­tients from the five years be­fore the ban came into force in July 2007, was com­pared with data from the sub­se­quent 14 months.

The Bath Uni­ver­sity re­search found hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions for heart attacks fell 2.4 per cent in Eng­land in the year af­ter it be­came the last UK nation to ban smok­ing in indoor pub­lic places.

This cut in ad­mis­sions saved the NHS around £8.4mil­lion and is likely to have pre­vented al­most 200 deaths. The sur­vival rate in hos­pi­tal is 85 per cent, so within a group of 1,200 ad­mis­sions around 180 would be ex­pected to die.

Ex­perts pointed out that heart attacks are only one of the smoke-re­lated health prob­lems that the ban will have re­duced.

Deb­o­rah Arnott, of the char­ity Ac­tion on Smok­ing and Health, said longer-term im­prove­ments in can­cer could also be ex­pected.

Re­search has al­ready demon­strated that the smok­ing ban has sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced ex­po­sure to sec­ond­hand smoke among non­smok­ers and chil­dren, which is likely to re­sult in fur­ther im­prove­ments in health.

Smoke, both first and sec­ond­hand, is thought to in­crease the chances of a heart at­tack by mak­ing the blood more prone to clot­ting, re­duc­ing lev­els of ‘good’ choles­terol and rais­ing the risk of dan­ger­ous heart rhythms.

More than one in five adults in Bri­tain is a smoker, with 23 per cent of men and 21 per cent of women smok­ing reg­u­larly. There

‘Green light for more mea­sures’

are 230,000 heart attacks each year, of which 123,000 are in adults younger than 75.

Betty McBride, of the Bri­tish Heart Foun­da­tion, said: ‘ It’s bril­liant news that an av­er­age three fewer peo­ple a day are ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal suf­fer­ing a heart at­tack.

‘What’s more, we’ll see more ben­e­fits in fu­ture be­cause heart attacks aren’t the only way that to­bacco smoke harms the heart.

‘Govern­ment should see this as a green light for fur­ther life-sav­ing mea­sures, go­ing be­yond the forth­com­ing ban on cig­a­rette vend­ing ma­chines, to crack down on il­le­gal to­bacco smug­gling and in­tro­duc­ing plain pack­ag­ing on cig­a­rette boxes.

‘These will also help stop peo­ple dy­ing pre­ma­turely be­cause of smok­ing-re­lated ill­nesses.’

Pre­vi­ous stud­ies have shown re­duc­tions in the num­ber of heart attacks of 14 to 17 per cent af­ter bans were in­tro­duced in Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land.

Ex­perts said the ef­fect was smaller in Eng­land be­cause many work­places and restau­rants were al­ready smoke-free when the law changed.

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