Background: Secondhand smoke (SHS) consists of fine particulate matter, carcinogens, and various toxins that affect large parts of the population. SHS increases the risk for acute cardiovascular events and may contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.
Objectives: We investigated the association of SHS with coronary artery calcification (CAC).
Methods: In this cross-sectional analysis, we used baseline data (2000–2003) from 1,766 never-smokers without clinically manifested coronary heart disease, 45–75 years of age, from the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study, an ongoing, prospective, population-based cohort study in Germany. Self-reported frequent SHS at home, at work, and in other places was assessed by questionnaire. CAC scores were derived based on electron-beam computed tomography. We conducted multiple linear regression analysis using exposure to SHS as the explanatory variable and ln(CAC+1) as the response variable. We conducted logistic regression to estimate the odds ratio (OR) for presence of any CAC.
Results: Frequent exposure to SHS was reported by 21.5% of participants. After adjustment for age, sex, and socioeconomic status, CAC + 1 was 21.1% [95% confidence interval (CI): –5.5%, 55.2%] higher in exposed than in unexposed participants. After adjusting for other cardiovascular risk factors, the association was attenuated (15.4%; 95% CI: –9.6%, 47.2%). SHS exposure was also associated with a CAC score > 0 (fully adjusted OR = 1.38; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.84).
Conclusions: Self-reported frequent exposure to SHS was associated with subclinical coronary atherosclerosis in our cross-sectional study population. Considering the widespread exposure and the clinical relevance of coronary atherosclerosis, this result, if confirmed, is of public health importance.