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May 10, 2018

Cigarette Smoking Increases Heart Failure Risk in African-Americans

Mississippi study links cigarette smoking to poorer heart function.

The more you smoke, the greater your risk for heart failure, based on a recent study that links cigarette smoking to increased heart failure risk in black adults.

Published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, this study looked at the impact of smoking on risk for heart failure.

Heart failure is a common condition that occurs when the heart can’t pump enough blood to the rest of the body. While smoking is a well-known risk factor for heart disease, there’s less evidence about the association between smoking and heart failure, especially in black adults.

To learn more, researchers analyzed data from the Jackson Heart Study, which investigates cardiovascular risk factors in African-Americans. Participants come from Jackson, Mississippi, which lies within the “stroke belt,” a region with unusually high rates of stroke and heart disease.

In total, the recent analysis included 4,129 black adults who were free of heart disease and heart failure at the start of the study. Participants were followed from 2000 to 2012, during which time they completed medical exams and provided information about their health and lifestyle.

The average age of participants was 54 and 63% were women. Based on self-reported data, more than half of participants were never smokers, while 12% were current smokers and 18% were former smokers.

After analysis, researchers found that current smokers were nearly three times as likely to be hospitalized for heart failure during follow-up as never smokers. They also found that smoking more frequently (at least 20 cigarettes a day) and for longer periods of time (at least 15 years) significantly increased smoker’s risk for developing heart failure.

Additionally, cardiac imaging in 1,092 of participants showed smokers had worse heart structure and function than never smokers.

Findings confirm that cigarette smoking increases risk of heart failure, specifically in black adults. Findings also suggest that the more individuals smoke, the greater their risk for heart failure.

As a result, quitting smoking or even cutting back is especially important for African-Americans who smoke. Unfortunately, blacks already face disproportionately high cardiovascular risk compared to whites. Quitting smoking is one important way that black adults can help reduce their risk for heart events and prevent conditions like heart failure and heart disease.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is heart failure?

  • Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to the rest of the body. Although there is no cure for heart failure, treatments such as ACE inhibitors and ARBs can help improve outcomes as well as quality of life.
  • What are health disparities?
  • Health disparities refer to differences in health outcomes or burdens of disease between groups of people. Health disparities can exist between different populations of race, sex, income, or even geographic location. In health care, the goal is to eliminate these differences so all individuals have the same ability to achieve good health.

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