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The research also found that smoking more and longer over a lifetime were associated with greater heart damage.
Even after accounting for factors such as age, race, body fat, blood pressure, diabetes and alcohol consumption, current smokers had thicker heart walls and reduced pumping function than nonsmokers and former smokers, the study showed.
The study was published Sept. 13 in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging.
"These data suggest that smoking can independently lead to thickening of the heart and worsening of heart function, which may lead to a higher risk for heart failure, even in people who don't have heart attacks," said study author Dr. Wilson Nadruz Jr. He is a research fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
These findings reinforce the recommendations stating that smoking is dangerous and should be stopped, Nadruz said in a journal news release.
Study senior author Dr. Scott Solomon is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. "The good news is that former smokers had similar heart structure and function compared with never-smokers," he said.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging, news release, Sept. 13, 2016