Secondhand Smoke in Pregnancy and Ties to Irregular Heartbeat

There are many issues that come with smoking, including being able to possibly file a lawsuit if you are receiving the effects of secondhand smoke. In some cases, secondhand smoke is seen as so harmful that rental agreements may even contain no-smoking clauses, which are becoming more and more common. There may be grounds for tenants and others to become evicted due to smoking and possibly causing others future harm. Along with this, many restaurants have instilled laws that people cannot smoke in their facility.

In September 2015, studies were done that showed that people may be more likely to have atrial fibrillation as adults if they just so happened to be exposed to secondhand smoke from cigarettes during childhood or while in the womb. What is this? Atrial fibrillation is actually a common type of irregular heart rate in which the heart beats too quickly, slowly, or irregularly. Typically, this type of fibrillation doesn’t strike until very many years later, up to decades, after secondhand smoke is inhaled.

These conclusions were reached due to a survey. Researchers analyzed survey answers from an Internet-based study group of 5,000 adults. They found that 12% of those adults, astoundingly enough, had atrial fibrillation. These researchers took many things into account, including the participants’ risk factors for the disease. This included race, sex, education level, smoking history, alcohol consumption, and a history of both diabetes and heart problems. After these factors were taken into consideration, it was found that 37% had higher odds of atrial fibrillation if either parent smoked while the mother was pregnant – and the adults had a 40% higher chance if they lived with a smoker as a child.

Maybe the study can’t prove cause and effect, no. However, the study suggested that secondhand smoke might have effects that are directly relevant to the arrhythmia. This is because it was found that, among adults without other risk factors, the link between atrial fibrillation in adulthood with secondhand smoke during pregnancy or childhood was even stronger.

Why are These Findings so Scary?

The reason why these study results are so scary is because it is quite disturbing to learn that a parent’s choice to smoke might have a very devastating effect in the future to a child. Atrial fibrillation is extremely serious, as it is a common cause of strokes. This means that, those with the condition often need to take blood thinner medication or undergo invasive procedures, often times throughout their entire lives. Toxins in the tobacco smoke likely have a direct impact on development of the heart’s electrical system. Children end up suffering the most negative effects from the secondhand smoke exposure.

Dr. Sarah Samaan, a cardiologist at the Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas, stated, “Early exposure to smoke not only can cause respiratory problems, but studies have found that it may also predispose individuals to coronary artery disease, substance abuse, hyperactivity and even aggression and criminal behavior. Children of smokers themselves are more likely to smoke, which perpetuates all of the associated risks of cancer, heart disease and lung disease.”

If you plan to have children, it may be a good idea to first consider talking to your doctor about certain therapies if you smoke. Quitting isn’t easy, but it also isn’t impossible. This will give your children a better chance at a healthy childhood and healthy adulthood.