Children exposed to passive smoking may be at risk of lifelong cardiovascular consequences in addition to respiratory and other health issues, warns an Indian origin researcher. The high level of toxicity in the smoke that comes from the end of a burning cigarette — side stream smoke — is a major component in passive smoking that damages the children’s blood vessels, the study said. “Children exposed to cigarette smoke may develop early heart disease as adults due to poorly functioning and stiffer blood vessels,” said paediatric cardiologist Geetha Raghuveer, from Children’s Mercy Hospital in Missouri, US.
“Some babies who were exposed to cigarette smoke while in the womb might die suddenly during infancy,” Raghuveer said in a statement from the American Heart Association. Compared to adults, children are more vulnerable to passive smoking exposure because they cannot control tobacco use in their surroundings, and are particularly susceptible physically to the smoke’s effects. Cigarette smoke contains a host of chemicals that can impact health by causing changes in blood flow, blood vessels, blood pressure and heart rhythm. Besides damaging heart and arteries, passive smoking has also been associated with other cardiovascular risk factors — obesity, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance — that are linked to diabetes.

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