Heart Information Center
 
Ask a Heart Doctor
  Back to previous page

 

Help us improve this service.

Your feedback will help guide us in developing this site.

Ask a Texas Heart Institute Doctor 
Informed patients make better patients.

Question:

Can exposure to second-hand smoke cause heart disease and other illnesses?

I am a student at Clarion University of Pa, collecting data for a research project. And I am writing to find out what effects secondhand smoke can have on a non-smoker's heart. My question is "Can a non-smoker develop heart disease or any other type of illness if the individual is involuntarily exposed on a regular base for a period of 12 months or longer inside a poorly ventilated resident or commercial building?" Thank you for taking the time to answer my question and I am very eager to hear back from you with your response. Sincerely.  

submitted by Cortney from Clarion, Pennsylvania on 6/17/2012

Answer:

Michael J. Mihalick, MDby Texas Heart Institute cardiologist, Michael J. Mihalick, MD  

Dear Cortney: One can theorize that inhaling small amounts of second hand smoke could be harmful. This would depend upon a lot of variables such as the person's genetic susceptibility to cancer, the concentration, and duration of the exposure, let alone the type of tobacco smoked. For example, pipe and cigar smoke burns at lower temperatures and contains different (possibly lower) amounts of tar. I don't want you to think that I'm in favor of smoking, but the data on second hand smoke and cancer are far from definitive and unfortunately have become politically charged. Other environmental factors in the smoking environment may be responsible as well. It is difficult to control for these variables. To my knowledge, the definitive study has not been done...and may not be possible. As far as heart disease is concerned, the carbon monoxide produced by smoking may be more harmful, especially acutely, but this risk is confined to the smoker. To summarize, while I think it prudent to minimize exposure to second- hand smoke, going to the extremes to avoid it is probably not necessary. Sincerely.  

See also on this site:       

Has your question or a similar one already been answered?
Search all the Heart Doctor questions and answers.

To search for a doctor or access St. Luke's physician referral service, use the "Find a Doctor" link at the top of this page.


Updated June 2012
Top  

If you need information about keeping your heart healthy, e-mail the
Heart Information Center or call 1-800-292-2221.
 (Outside the U.S., call 1-832-355-6536.)

Texas Heart Institute Heart Information Center
Through this community outreach program, staff members of the Texas Heart Institute (THI) provide educational information related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular disease. It is not the intention of THI to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided and THI urges you to visit a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your questions.
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Subscribe to us on YouTube Find Us on Flicikr Follow Us on Pinterest Add us on Google+

Please contact our Webmaster with questions or comments.
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
© Copyright 1996-2014 Texas Heart Institute.
All rights reserved.
This website is accredited by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. U.S. NEWS America's Best Hospitals 2013-14