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In press: Smoking is a major independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease in middleaged population


Smoking is a major independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in middle-aged population, a recent Finnish study indicates. Cigarette smoke is the second leading cause for CVD mortality after high blood pressure. More than 10% of the over 17 million CVD-related annual global deaths are estimated to be caused by smoking. However, the study shows that quitting smoking in middle-age might reduce CVD risk to the same level as people who have never smoked.

The study assessed differences in CVD risk factors in relation to smoking behavior and history. More than 3500 46-year-olds belonging to the Northern Finland Birth Cohort  were included in the study. Framingham and Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation (SCORE) algorithms were used to assess the absolute risk of a CVD event within the next decade. In addition, differences in known CVD risk factors were analyzed between the groups.

Current smokers had higher risk for the first CVD event in the next 10 years compared to never smokers. Smoking was also associated with higher risk of a fatal cardiovascular event. However, past or present smoking had only a modest effect on the individual CVD risk factors, such as lipid profile or blood pressure. Therefore, smoking was the primary cause for increased risk for CVD morbidity and mortality.

“Smoking is one of the most important preventable risks for serious illness and death”, says Kari Linden, Senior Scientific Advisor of Pfizer Innovative Health.

According to Linden, the results of this study emphasize the importance of smoking cessation. “There is a lot of evidence that CVD could be decreased by preventing smoking and placing additional effort into smoking cessation of middle-aged people”, he states.

MedEngine conducted the study in collaboration with University of Oulu and Pfizer Oy.

Keto J, Ventola H, Jokelainen J, Linden K, Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi S, Timonen M, Ylisaukko-oja T, Auvinen J. Cardiovascular disease risk factors in relation to smoking behavior and history: a population-based cohort study. Open Heart 2016;3:e000358. Doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2015-000358 (

Hanna Ventola

Hanna Ventola

Ever since receiving her MSc in biotechnology at the University of Helsinki, Hanna has been driven by the opportunity to make the most out of health data. Hanna doesn’t hide her enthusiasm when talking about the advantages of private—public partnership in medical research and the implementation of real-world data for optimizing treatment practices and improving patients’ quality of life. Hanna is currently finishing her PhD thesis on hemophilia. As a positive and easily inspired person, Hanna is always ready for a new challenge. Outside of work, the football enthusiasm of her two sons makes up most of her free time.