Individuals who smoke may be nearly twice as likely to develop an abdominal aortic aneurysm – a deadly condition of the main artery of the body that often turns out to be a silent killer, researchers have warned.
However, the risk of this potentially life-threatening condition can be lowered by quitting, the study said.
An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the large artery that supplies blood to the belly, pelvis and legs and can lead to severe internal bleeding, if the artery ruptures, which can prove to be very risky for the patient.
“Our study quantified the lifetime risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm and found that it was far from trivial for smokers,” said lead author Weihong Tang, Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota, in the US.
“And we quantified the benefit of quitting smoking, which turns out to be substantial,” Tang added.
For the study, the team looked at 15,792 people over the age of 45 and found that one in 17 had a lifetime risk of an abdominal aortic.
Among those who had quit smoking for three to eight years (recent quitters) still had an approximately 2.6 to 3.5 fold increased risk for both clinical and asymptomatic abdominal aortic aneurysm in the next 15 years compared to never smokers.
Their lifetime risk was 6.6 per cent higher than long-term quitters.
In addition, being older or having high levels of bad cholesterol also increased the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm, the researchers noted.
The study appears in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.