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Doctors: Heart attack study is accurate

Colorado study could have implications for Burbank smokers.

January 07, 2009|By Zain Shauk

DOWNTOWN — A government study showing that a partial smoking ban had a dramatic effect on reducing heart attacks in a Colorado town may have implications for Glendale and Burbank, where similar ordinances have been passed in recent years, experts said.

The study, published Dec. 30 by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was the first conducted over a period as long as three years and showed a sustained decrease in hospital admissions for heart attacks, said Christine Nevin-Woods, the lead researcher on the study and the director of the Pueblo City-County Health Department in Pueblo, Colo., where the study was conducted.

Heart attack admissions dropped 41% in Pueblo over the three-year period that followed the enactment of a law that made workplaces and public areas smoke-free, the study showed.

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While researchers were not able to draw a direct connection between the decrease in heart attack patients and the partial smoking ban, the group’s work was the ninth study worldwide that showed a similar trend, accounting for a strong correlation, said Terry Pechacek, one of the authors of the study and associate director for science at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s office on smoking and health.

“These data add further emphasis on the fact that if someone wants to reduce their risk of a heart attack, or protect themselves from a possible heart attack, they should avoid indoor places that permit smoking,” he said.

Researchers focused on measuring heart attacks, rather than lung cancer or other respiratory illnesses commonly associated with smoking, because smoke can have a more immediate effect on the heart, whereas other problems can take more than 30 years to develop, Nevin-Woods said.

“The medical profession has known that heart attack and heart disease is associated with secondhand smoke,” she said. “That’s easier to measure because there’s special tests that are done that tell us, as doctors, when someone has a heart attack, so we can specifically measure that in the hospital.”

Although no concrete figures are available for changes in heart attack admissions in Burbank, where police have been enforcing an anti-smoking law since August 2007, the findings could predict added health benefits for local residents, said David Sato, a cardiologist at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center.

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