Nav: Home

Children Who Breathe Second-Hand Smoke At Home Have Lower Levels Of "Good" Cholesterol, Study Finds

August 26, 1997

DALLAS, Sept. 2 -- Children already in danger of developing heart disease because of high cholesterol blood levels face a "triple jeopardy" if they live in smoke-filled homes, according to a study appearing in today's American Heart Association journal Circulation.

The study, the first of its kind to look at blood fats and second-hand smoke in children (ages 2 to 18) with elevated cholesterol, found that passive smoke lowers by about 10 percent the level of the child's HDL. HDL, the "good" cholesterol, protects against heart attacks.

Children with an inherited cholesterol disorder already have a higher risk of developing heart disease. Exposure to second-hand smoke at an early age lowers HDL. In addition, smokers' offspring more often become smokers themselves, says Ellis J. Neufeld, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues at Boston Children's Hospital

Neufeld and his co-workers made a preliminary report on their research at the American Heart Association's 1994 Scientific Sessions in Dallas.

The findings suggest that escaping a smoky environment could raise children's HDL by 10 percent -- equal to, or better than other risk-reducing interventions.

"It's hard to make HDL go up 10 percent. Diet and exercise can help, but we'd predict that ending exposure to passive smoke would be at least as effective as these measures," says Neufeld, director of Clinical Hematology at Children's Hospital.

Children in the study were considered at high risk because of cholesterol abnormalities -- either total cholesterol above 200 mg/dl (considered high in children), HDL levels that were unusually low or family history of heart disease. They had been referred to a Children's Hospital clinic for treatment of their cholesterol disorders.

Twenty-seven percent of the 103 children came from households of cigarette smokers. Those exposed to tobacco had HDLs averaging 38 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) of blood, while HDLs averaged 43 mg/dl among those who didn't have to inhale smoke-fouled air.

There are 27.4 million young Americans under 19 with cholesterol levels above 170mg/dL (comparable to a level of 200mg/dL in adults). "So many thousands of these youngsters can conceivably benefit from removing the smoke in their environment," he says.

Passive smoke's effect was not attributable to demographic characteristics of the smoking households, knowledge of cholesterol, parents' attitudes or physiological factors, the authors add. Because all those in the study had abnormal blood cholesterol levels, the conclusions can't be applied to all children, the researchers point out. Their study's impact is limited by its relatively small size and by the fact that no tests were conducted for chemical components of tobacco smoke. Also, the investigators say their study's design did not allow them to prove that reducing passive smoke exposure would raise children's HDL levels.

The study accounted for body mass index (an indicator of obesity), age, sex, exercise and dietary fat intake.

Co-authors of today's report with Neufeld were Michele Mietus-Snyder, M.D.; Alexa S. Beiser, Ph.D., Annette L. Baker, R.N., M.S.N., and Jane W. Newburger, M.D., M.P.H.

Circulation is one of five scientific journals published by the American Heart Association, which has its national headquarters in Dallas.
Media advisory: Dr. Neufeld can be reached in Boston at (617) 355-8183.
Reporters may call (214) 706-1173 for a copy of the report and the AHA statement on Environmental Tobacco Smoke. (Please do not publish telephone numbers.)

American Heart Association

Related Heart Disease Articles:

Heart-healthy diets are naturally low in dietary cholesterol and can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
Eating a heart-healthy dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, vegetable oils and nuts, which is also limits salt, red and processed meats, refined-carbohydrates and added sugars, is relatively low in dietary cholesterol and supports healthy levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.
Pacemakers can improve heart function in patients with chemotherapy-induced heart disease
Research has shown that treating chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy with commercially available cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) delivered through a surgically implanted defibrillator or pacemaker can significantly improve patient outcomes.
Arsenic in drinking water may change heart structure raising risk of heart disease
Drinking water that is contaminated with arsenic may lead to thickening of the heart's main pumping chamber in young adults, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
New health calculator can help predict heart disease risk, estimate heart age
A new online health calculator can help people determine their risk of heart disease, as well as their heart age, accounting for sociodemographic factors such as ethnicity, sense of belonging and education, as well as health status and lifestyle behaviors.
Wide variation in rate of death between VA hospitals for patients with heart disease, heart failure
Death rates for veterans with ischemic heart disease and chronic heart failure varied widely across the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system from 2010 to 2014, which could suggest differences in the quality of cardiovascular health care provided by VA medical centers.
Heart failure: The Alzheimer's disease of the heart?
Similar to how protein clumps build up in the brain in people with some neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, protein clumps appear to accumulate in the diseased hearts of mice and people with heart failure, according to a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers.
Women once considered low risk for heart disease show evidence of previous heart attack scars
Women who complain about chest pain often are reassured by their doctors that there is no reason to worry because their angiograms show that the women don't have blockages in the major heart arteries, a primary cause of heart attacks in men.
Where you live could determine risk of heart attack, stroke or dying of heart disease
People living in parts of Ontario with better access to preventive health care had lower rates of cardiac events compared to residents of regions with less access, found a new study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Older adults with heart disease can become more independent and heart healthy with physical activity
Improving physical function among older adults with heart disease helps heart health and even the oldest have a better quality of life and greater independence.
Dietary factors associated with substantial proportion of deaths from heart disease, stroke, and disease
Nearly half of all deaths due to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes in the US in 2012 were associated with suboptimal consumption of certain dietary factors, according to a study appearing in the March 7 issue of JAMA.
More Heart Disease News and Heart Disease Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

There's so much we've yet to explore–from outer space to the deep ocean to our own brains. This hour, Manoush goes on a journey through those uncharted places, led by TED Science Curator David Biello.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#555 Coronavirus
It's everywhere, and it felt disingenuous for us here at Science for the People to avoid it, so here is our episode on Coronavirus. It's ok to give this one a skip if this isn't what you want to listen to right now. Check out the links below for other great podcasts mentioned in the intro. Host Rachelle Saunders gets us up to date on what the Coronavirus is, how it spreads, and what we know and don't know with Dr Jason Kindrachuk, Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba. And...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 1: Numbers
In a recent Radiolab group huddle, with coronavirus unraveling around us, the team found themselves grappling with all the numbers connected to COVID-19. Our new found 6 foot bubbles of personal space. Three percent mortality rate (or 1, or 2, or 4). 7,000 cases (now, much much more). So in the wake of that meeting, we reflect on the onslaught of numbers - what they reveal, and what they hide.  Support Radiolab today at