Clinical Edge

Summaries of Must-Read Clinical Literature, Guidelines, and FDA Actions

Peripheral Artery Disease Risk Persists Long Term After Smoking Cessation

Key clinical point: Peripheral artery disease, as well as coronary heart disease and stroke, should be considered in public health information on smoking prevention and cessation.

Major finding: A significantly increased risk for PAD persisted for up to 30 years after smoking cessation among adults with no previous history of PAD.

Study details: The data come from a community-based cohort of 13,355 adults aged 45-64 years enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study.

Disclosures: The ARIC study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Ding had no financial conflicts to disclose; coauthors disclosed relationships with Bristol-Myers Squibb and Fukuda Denshi.


Ding N et al. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2019 Jul 22;74:498-507. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2019.06.003.


Although the pathophysiology of smoking and cardiovascular disease has yet to be teased out, the current study findings support the public health message that any and all smokers can improve their health by quitting any time: “It is never too early or too late to benefit from quitting,” wrote Nancy A. Rigotti, MD, and Mary M. McDermott, MD, in an accompanying editorial. The editorialists questioned whether the findings were generalizable to patients with mild PAD or those who are not hospitalized. However, they found the data consistent with previous studies suggesting that atherosclerosis is not homogeneous. “Differences in shear stress and hemodynamic forces among the femoral, coronary, and carotid arterial beds may also explain variability in associations of smoking and smoking cessation with the incidence of PAD versus myocardial infarction or stroke,” they said.

The findings also support the need to emphasize PAD in public health messages and provide an opportunity to educate patients about the risks of limb loss and impaired mobility associated with PAD, they said.

Many clinicians put a low priority on smoking cessation, the editorialists wrote, but “long-term tobacco abstinence is achievable using a chronic disease management approach resembling the strategies used to manage other risk factors,” they said. They cited the American College of Cardiology’s recently released “Expert Consensus Decision Pathway on Tobacco Cessation Treatment.” The pathway outlines advice for clinicians, including how to provide a brief intervention and resources along with advice to quit smoking.

Dr. Rigotti is affiliated with Harvard Medical School, Boston. Dr. McDermott is affiliated with Northwestern University, Chicago. Dr. Rigotti disclosed royalties from UpToDate, serving as a consultant for Achieve Life Sciences, and travel expenses from Pfizer for unpaid consulting. Dr. McDermott disclosed research funding from Regeneron, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute on Aging, and the American Heart Association, plus research support from Chromadex, ReserveAge, Hershey, and ViroMed.