June 7, 2011- If a young teenage girl was looking to start smoking or a woman was interested in quitting smoking then they may be interested in a recent study by researchers at the Harvard Medical School. They found that the more a woman smokes the higher her risk in developing peripheral artery disease (PAD). The disease restricts the blood flow to extremities by narrowing the arteries and is very debilitating.
Millions in the U.S. are afflicted with the disease according to figures from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Symptoms are numbness and pain in the extremities the legs being most common area affected. The disease also increases the risk of heart attack, coronary heart disease, mini-stroke and stroke. And in extreme cases requires amputation.
The study team used data from the Women’s Heath Study that followed nearly 40,000 women aged 45 and older starting back in 1993. They measure the relationship of smoking with the disease. The study asked many questions about smoking from whether or not you ever smoked, had previously smoked, smoked regularly or smoked very little.
Researchers found that the risk for developing the disease increased as the woman smoked more cigarettes daily. Those women that have stopped smoking for 10 years are 50% less likely to develop the disease. Those women that quit over 20 years ago have only a 15% change of developing PAD compared to current women smokers. While those that had never smoked were only 8% as likely to develop the condition.