Cardiologists are sounding the alarm for young smokers after new research revealed a horrifying process begins just 10 minutes after taking a puff.
Australian cardiologists have voiced major concerns about a phenomenon called “sticky blood” that causes heart attacks among smokers in their 30s and 40s.
New research has revealed that within 10 minutes of inhaling cigarette smoke, a person’s blood becomes sticky and constricts the artery walls. The sticky blood makes it tougher for the heart to pump blood around the body and increases blood clots.
The deadly cocktail of these two issues can lead to a catastrophic heart attack.
Professor Nicholas Cox, the director of cardiology of Western Health in Victoria said he had seen a large increase in young patients being admitted for heart attacks, chest pain and coronary heart disease.
“We see a lot of young patients having heart attacks,” Dr Cox told NCA NewsWire.
“It’s been known for a long time that the trigger for young patients having heart attacks are blood clots going into their arteries, where there is already a little bit of cholesterol.
“Normally, that cholesterol wouldn’t be too much of an issue but when you get the combination of the blood being sticky and blood clots travelling to places in the body where there is cholesterol, that is a recipe for a heart attack.”
Experts from the Cancer Council of Victoria, who have launched a new campaign about sticky blood, have explained it as like tomato sauce within a bottle getting thicker and thicker until it can’t be squeezed out.
“Sticky blood is just another way of describing the process where a blood clot forms in the heart,” Dr Cox said.
“When a person smokes, it makes the platelets within their blood become stickier, and they stick to other platelets and form clots that travel to the heart.”
Kellie-Ann Jolly, Victorian chief executive officer of the Heart Foundation, said it was vital for people to know exactly how cigarette smoke affects the heart.
“Most people know that smoking increases the risk of developing various cancers (long term), but relatively few people know how cigarette smoke can clot the blood (in the short term), which can lead to a heart attack even for people in their 30s and 40s,” she said. “There is no safe level of smoking.”
Dr Cox said it was a nationwide epidemic that needed more attention.
“Oh, yes, it is definitely an issue across the nation.” he said. “I see this issue at the Sunshine Hospital, west of Melbourne, but (cardiologists) are seeing this issue in cities around Australia where there is a higher population of smokers.”