Young women smokers face higher heart risk

The risks of smoking to the heart are pretty well known.

Every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a heart attack, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Heart disease is already the top killer of women and men, and smoking, which is a strong risk factor for heart disease, is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

However, a new study also finds that risk is greater for women.

That's according to a new study published in the the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

It is one of the first to quantify just how bad smoking is for the hearts of women compared to men, particularly among patients who had what's known as acute ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI, a serious type of heart attack.

STEMI is when one of the heart's major arteries, the one that supplies oxygen and blood to the heart, is blocked.

Smoking is the cause of 50% of STEMI cases, earlier research has shown.

British scientists looked at thousands of people who'd suffered one of the most life-threatening types of heart attack.

The risk was much higher in women than it was in men, no matter their age.

Among those 50 to 64 years of age, women smokers had twice the rate of male smokers.

But among women from 18 to 49, the rate was 13 times higher than for men.

The researchers suspect smoking is worse for women's hearts because it lowers their production of estrogen.

Past research shows estrogen has a protective effect for women's hearts.

Chronic inflammation from smoking also stresses the heart, and women's smaller hearts may not be able to take as much stress.

Study leaders say it shows the need to discourage smoking among teens, especially girls.
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