10/29/2012 04:01 pm ET

Heart Attack Rate Goes Down In Association With Smoke-Free Laws, Study Shows

The decline in the rates of heart attack and sudden cardiac death corresponds with the implementation of laws to promote smoke-free workplaces in Minnesota's Olmsted County, according to a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Mayo Clinic researchers found that the heart attack rate in Olmsted County went down by 33 percent 18 months after smoke-free workplace laws were implemented, compared with 18 months before the laws were implemented.

They also found that sudden cardiac deaths decreased by 17 percent from the 18 months before the laws went into effect and 18 months after.

"Moving forward, we should prioritize the enforcement of smoke-free policies, eliminating loopholes in existing policies as well as encouraging expansion of smoke-free policies to include multiunit housing, motor vehicles, casinos and outdoor locations," University of California, San Francisco experts, who were not involved in conducting the study, wrote in a related commentary in the journal.

The study included looking at the heart attack rates 18 months before the smoke-free law was implemented in the county in 2002, and the rates 18 months after all workplaces were made smoke-free in 2007.

Specifically, the researchers found that the number of heart attacks for every 100,000 people went down from 150.8 people to 100.7 people after the laws went into effect.

Previous research has shown that secondhand smoke claims more than 40,000 lives in the U.S. each year, LiveScience reported.

And a Harvard study presented just this past month at the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians showed that in just 20 minutes, secondhand smoke causes impediments in airflow through a person's airway.



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