Even though peripheral artery disease (PAD) is almost 3 times more prevalent among African Americans compared with that of whites, it is understudied, say researchers from University of Mississippi. They say earlier studies did not include significant numbers of African Americans, limiting the ability to single out the effects of smoking in African Americans as distinct from, for example, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and obesity.
This National Institute of Health (NIH)-funded study, however, provides some new information about what raises the risks of PAD in African Americans. The researchers studied participants in the Jackson Heart Study, the largest single-site cohort study investigating cardiovascular disease in African Americans.
They divided 5,258 participants into 3 groups: smokers, past smokers, never smokers. After taking other risk factors into account, they found people who smoked > 1 pack a day had a significantly higher risk than did those smoking < 19 cigarettes a day. A longer history of smoking also raised the risk of PAD.
Their findings point to the benefits of stopping smoking, the researchers say: Although never smokers had the lowest risk, past smokers also had lower odds.
The researchers caution, though, that despite strong associations between smoking and PAD, their findings do not establish a causal link.