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Early Smoke Exposure Tied to Increased Atrial Fibrillation RiskBy Roxanne Nelson October 19, 2015

Reuters Health) - People exposed to secondhand smoke in the womb or as children are at an increased risk later in life for atrial fibrillation, a new study hints.

"We can't say that secondhand smoke definitely caused atrial fibrillation" based on this type of study, said senior author Dr. Gregory Marcus from the University of California, San Francisco. "We do need to confirm these findings."

Cigarette smoking is linked to the development of atrial fibrillation, but the link with secondhand smoke exposure was unknown.

Using data from 4,976 people taking part in an Internet-based study on heart health, the researchers analyzed participants' exposure to secondhand smoke and whether or not they had atrial fibrillation.

Overall, about 12% of participants reported having atrial fibrillation. Those with the condition had an average age of about 62, compared to an average age of about 50 among those without atrial fibrillation.

The researchers accounted for factors that may have affected subjects' risks for atrial fibrillation, including age, sex, race, other health conditions and smoking and alcohol use.

They found that people exposed to secondhand smoke in the womb or during childhood were about 40% more likely to report atrial fibrillation than those who weren't exposed.

The risk was even higher among people who did not have other risk factors for atrial fibrillation, they note in a report online September 1 in the journal Heart Rhythm.

Dr. Cuno S.P.M. Uiterwaal of the University Medical Center Utrecht in The Netherlands speculated in an email to Reuters Health that the impact of secondhand smoke may be more obvious in people without other more significant atrial fibrillation risk factors.

"Papers like these aim to draw attention to the possibility that early-life secondhand smoke exposure may not only have short term consequences, such as to the fetus, but also long-term hazards to offspring," said Uiterwaal, who was not involved in the study.

Preventing secondhand smoke exposure in early development and life may be one way to reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation later on, the researchers say.

SOURCE: bit.ly/1jsVmcf

17 Replies

An interesting point. However, I was brought up in a home where no one smoked so it couldn't have caused my AF. Will be interested to hear what others on this site have to say.

Could open indoor fires or garden bonfires cause AF I wonder? I was certainly exposed to lots of those, but then I guess lots of people were.



My mother smoked while pregnant with me, she smoked when I was a kid, in the house, in the car basically any dam where she pleased.

No wonder I got AF!


Same for me.


It shows a statistical link - as the article says - "We can't say that secondhand smoke definitely caused atrial fibrillation" based on this type of study, said senior author Dr. Gregory Marcus from the University of California, San Francisco. "We do need to confirm these findings."


I have never smoked but I grew up in a house full of smoke.

I don't know if my mother smoked whilst pregnant but I suspect she did.

I worked in offices full of smoke too. : (



found this interesting My father was a smoker all his life and no cause was found for my PAF Could this be the reason ? Interestingly my brother doesn't have AF


People do love to manipulate statistics didn't they? Lets face it 60 years ago we all smoked (well I was a bit too young) so of course anybody of 60+ will have been exposed to second hand smoke as a child and AF % increases with age. We know that 1 in 3 over 75 are likely to have AF so why don't we claim that exposure to The Battle of Britain caused AF! I think I will set up a research project to prove this and get funding from some obscure body to supplement my pension.


My thoughts exactly as soon as I read the initial post. I am not sure about exact numbers because I read it some years ago but I think that it was something like 85% of households where people aged 15 to 35 lived smoked for a number of years during the 40s, 50s and most of the 60s. Also most burnt coal as well. I am 61 now and it was only when I was about 15 that my father gave up smoking and when he did he was on 80+ per day. My mum had smoked but I know she gave it up when she was pregnant with me or just before.


Finding this interesting. I also grew up in a house full of smoke and look forward to reading further about this when more research has been done.


Then there should be less AF in the future as fewer people now smoke. We won't be around to find out. Maybe I should blame the London peasouper fogs?


That would be nice Mrspat wouldn't it but we know that incidence of AF is increasing rapidly and amongst younger people all the time. I remember brown handkerchiefs from the peasoupers as well and they permeated the houses too so you were never out of them.


Leaving aside the second hand smoke study .what are the stats on people who have smoked or did smoke most of their lives, how many of those have a fib .A few years ago butter and eggs were bad for your heart .No smoking in my family and I have it .


I never smoked and I have persistent AF !!!!


Yes, my mom smoked while she was pregnant with me, and both my parents smoked at home. Our house and cars were always smoke filled and the only time I wasn't around smoke was in the classroom.

That said, it seems that when I was diagnosed, they told me this was a disease of 80 year olds. Now I am stunned by how many people in their 20's, 30's and 40's now have AF and these are people who are less likely to be born to mom's who smoked while pregnant because the campaign to make that stop was in full swing since the 70's when I started practice and unlike when I was born, there was great awareness of the harm of cigarette smoke.

I think if you were unlucky enough to get the DNA for AF, the exposure to smoke may well have made cardiac cell changes that inked the deal. :-(

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I wonder if it's more likely that people who can't stop smoking, or want to smoke, are more inclined to AF anyhow? Not all, but quite a few smoke because they need to calm themselves. I think some of these statistical links are more complex than it seems and in this case, may be nothing to do with actual smoke at all. But who knows.



I was born into a household where full ash trays were the decorative features!! A packet of Players was always open on the kitchen table. Mind you I loved collecting the cards and even the different packets. Remember the bus stops with all the burnt out fag ends as people put them out when they got on the bus!! Not to mention the cinema where the smoke curled lazily up to get caught in the light from the projector and add to the atmosphere.

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statistics can mean want people want them to mean


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