MONDAY, Sept. 22, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Women exposed to secondhand smoke at home or in the workplace had a 67 percent increased risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD) compared to women who weren't exposed, a new study says.
"This is the first study to show the adverse effects of secondhand smoke on peripheral artery disease in women," lead author Yao He, a professor of epidemiology at the Chinese PLA General Hospital in Beijing, said in an American Heart Association news release.
The researchers, who examined 1,209 Chinese women 60 years and older who'd never smoked, also found that exposure to secondhand smoke increased the risk of coronary heart disease by 69 percent and the risk of ischemic stroke by 56 percent. Ischemic stroke occurs when a blockage cuts off blood supply to the brain.
For the study, secondhand smoke exposure was defined as exposure to tobacco smoke for at least 15 minutes daily for more than one day every week for at least two years during the past 10 years.
Among the women in the study, 477 (39.5 percent) were exposed to secondhand smoke -- 414 (86.8 percent) at home and 63 (13.2 percent) in the workplace. Overall, there were 271 cases of PAD, 431 cases of coronary disease, and 172 cases of stroke, 109 of which were ischemic stroke.
The findings were published Sept. 22 in the journal Circulation.
"This study broadens the finding about the detrimental health effects of passive smoking on heart disease and stroke," senior author Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in the news release.
Even though this study focused on women, it's likely that secondhand smoke has the same harmful effects on men, Hu said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about secondhand smoke.