Heart failure in smokers diagnostically visible

According to a study, smokers suffer from heart failure more frequently than non-smokers of the same age. The underlying changes in the heart are visible.

Study on cardiovascular risk factors and diseases

A study from Copenhagen presented during the ESC Congress 2022 now aims to fill this knowledge gap. The researchers investigated whether smoking is associated with changes in the structure and function of the heart. Particularly exciting with regard to prevention was the question of the extent to which a change in smoking habits could also have a positive effect on the heart.

The study was based on data from the "5th Copenhagen City Heart Study", which analysed cardiovascular risk factors and diseases in the general population. A total of 3,874 participants without heart disease aged between 20 and 99 years were included. The participants documented their smoking history and the number of pack-years in a form. A so-called pack-year corresponds to a year in which 20 cigarettes were smoked daily. This number can be used to estimate the amount of cigarettes smoked over a lifetime.

Echocardiography shows structural heart failure in smokers

In a second step, an echocardiography of the participants provided information about the structure and functioning of their hearts. A comparison of the echocardiographic readings of current smokers with those of never-smokers showed that smokers had thicker heart walls, making their hearts heavier and with weaker pumping capacity. In addition, the more years smokers smoked, the less blood was pumped. Age, gender, body mass index (BMI), hypertension, hypercholesterolemia as well as diabetes and also lung function were taken into account for the comparison.

Quitting smoking strengthens the heart

Dr Eva Holt, study author at Herlevand Gentofte Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark, explained:

Our study shows that smoking also leads to thicker, weaker hearts. It means that smokers have a smaller volume of blood in the left heart chamber and less power to pump it out to the rest of the body. The more you smoke, the worse your heart function becomes. The heart can recuperate to some degree with smoking cessation, so it is never too late to quit.

  1. Abstract "The effects of smoking on cardiac structure and function in a general population" presented during the session Risk stratification with echocardiographic parameters on Friday 26 August at 10:15 to 11:00 
  2. Press release of the ESC