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Quitting smoking reverses coronary artery damage.

Young men who quit smoking can reverse the early stages of coronary artery disease in as quickly as one month, according to a new positron emission tomography study that appeared in the December 2006 issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

Smokers face a significantly higher risk of death from coronary artery disease. Smoking can damage the innermost layer of the coronary arteries, known as the endothelium, causing the arteries to have difficulty expanding in response to increased blood flow. Since coronary endothelial dysfunction is reversible, early detection is important.

In the study, researchers examined the effects of smoking cessation on coronary artery function in 15 male adults, average age 26 years, with no cardiovascular risk factors other than smoking. Researchers used PET to measure myocardial blood flow, or blood flow in the heart, both at rest and during stimulation induced by a cold pressor test, which involves subjecting an individual to a cold stimulus. For instance, researchers might examine heart function while subjects have their forearms immersed in ice water.

Blood flow in the heart at rest did not differ between smokers and nonsmokers. In contrast, blood flow during the cold pressor test in smokers was lower than that in nonsmokers. While there was no significant difference among smokers in blood flow at rest after smoking cessation, blood flow during the cold pressor test increased at one month after smoking cessation. The improvement in myocardial blood flow in response to the cold pressor test was still evident at six months after smoking cessation.

By Laurie Volkin and Richard S. Dargan, Contributing Writers
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Title Annotation:in the news
Publication:ASRT Scanner
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2007
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