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Am J Cardiol. 1986 May 1;57(13):1005-9.

Direct effects of smoking on the heart: silent ischemic disturbances of coronary flow.


Cigarette smoking is strongly associated with ischemic heart disease and acute coronary events. The effect of smoking a single cigarette on regional myocardial perfusion was studied in 13 chronic smokers with typical stable angina pectoris using positron emission tomography and rubidium-82 (82Rb). Findings were compared with the effects of physical exercise. After exercise, 8 patients (61%) had angina, ST depression and abnormal regional myocardial perfusion. Uptake of 82Rb increased from 49 +/- 8 to 60 +/- 7 in remote myocardium, but decreased from 46 +/- 3 to 37 +/- 5 in an ischemic area. The remaining 5 patients (39%) had homogeneous increases in 82Rb uptake without angina or ST depression. After smoking, 6 of the 8 patients with positive exercise test responses had a decrease in 82Rb uptake, from 47 +/- 3 to 35 +/- 6 in the same segment of myocardium affected during exercise. However, in contrast to exercise, the events during smoking were largely silent. The absolute decreases in regional 82Rb uptake after smoking occurred at significantly lower levels of myocardial oxygen demand than after exercise. This suggests that an impairment of coronary blood supply is responsible. Thus, in smokers with coronary artery disease, each cigarette can cause profound silent disturbances of regional myocardial perfusion that are likely to occur frequently during daily life. Such repeated insults may represent an important mechanism linking smoking with coronary events.

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