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MONDAY, Aug. 5, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Cigarette smokers have a sharply higher risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD) -- and even if they quit, that added risk can last for decades, a new study warns.
This study included more than 3,300 current smokers, nearly 4,200 former smokers and a few thousand people who never smoked. They were followed for a median of 26 years; half were followed for less time, half more.
Pack-years is a measure of smoking. Ten pack-years can mean one pack per day for 10 years or two packs per day for five years or some other combination.
"Our results underscore the importance of both smoking prevention for nonsmokers and early smoking cessation for smokers," said senior author Dr. Kunihiro Matsushita. He is an associate professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
"The study also suggests that campaigns about smoking's health risks should emphasize the elevated risk of peripheral artery disease, not just coronary heart disease and stroke," Matsushita said in a Johns Hopkins news release.
About 8.5 million people in the United States have PAD, including more than 10% of people over 69, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most cases go undiagnosed and there is a lack of public awareness about the disorder, the researchers noted.
The study was published July 22 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: Johns Hopkins University, news release, July 23, 2019