Black smokers at higher risk for peripheral artery disease

Jan. 23 (UPI) — African-Americans who smoke may be at higher risk for developing peripheral artery disease, a new study says.

Smoking more than a pack of cigarettes per day significantly also raised the risk of developing PAD among participants more than among those who smoke fewer than 19 cigarettes per day, a new study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

“The Jackson Heart Study is the largest single-site cohort study evaluating cardiovascular risk factors in African Americans. This important data offers the opportunity to explore the impact of smoking on peripheral artery disease in African Americans, an area that has been understudied in this population,” Donald Clark, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and study lead researcher, told UPI.

PAD develops when plaque clogs the arteries in the legs, limiting blood flow to that area. If it persists, it can lead to a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. PAD afflicts between eight and 12 million people in the United States, primarily those age 50 and older, according to the American Heart Association.

“Peripheral artery disease is associated with claudication (pain in the legs with walking), exercise intolerance, decreased quality of life, infection and amputation. These are additional messaging points that can complement the often cited and well-established risk of heart disease and stroke caused by smoking,” Clark said.

Past studies didn’t include many African-Americans, despite the fact that PAD is more widespread among black people than white people. This kept researchers from understanding how important smoking was versus other risk factors like diabetes mellitus, hypertension and obesity in developing PAD.

“We aimed to assess the association between smoking and markers of peripheral artery disease in African Americans. We hope this data broadens our understanding on the adverse effects of smoking in this population,” Clark said.

“Our study involved only African Americans, and therefore did not specifically evaluate the susceptibility of PAD as compared to other groups. However, previous work has demonstrated that the burden of PAD is higher among African Americans as compared to non-Hispanic whites. Our data support efforts evaluating the impact of smoking cessation to reduce PAD in this population,” Clark added.

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