The blood pressure of people who are smokers will drop if they stop using nicotine or some other form of tobacco, a new study suggests.
The results are significant, said lead researcher Daniela L. Zwierzwinski of the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona.
People who have smoked for a long time have higher blood pressure than people who haven’t, said Zwierski, a postdoctoral researcher in psychiatry at the University at Buffalo Medical Center.
That’s why people should avoid smoking.
“It’s a real concern because it’s the biggest predictor of death,” said Lottie F. Dannemelk, an associate professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.
Dannemels work has shown that people who quit smoking have lower blood pressure and heart attacks.
But Zwiesers study is the first to show that smoking can cause the same effects in people who have never smoked.
The study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, was designed to examine the effects of tobacco use on blood pressure.
Researchers recruited about 1,500 adults between the ages of 18 and 64 who were part of the study.
They were asked about their blood pressure at baseline and at the end of a 2-year study, with a follow-up period of two years.
They then measured blood pressure using a device called a systolic and diastolic blood pressure cuff.
It measures pressure in a region on the underside of the hand, about two inches above the palm.
People with lower blood pressures tended to have higher readings at baseline, said the study’s senior author, Dr. Jennifer D. Sosnowski of the Department of Internal and Community Medicine at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
“These people had lower blood vessels in their arteries, which meant they were more likely to have heart attacks,” Sosniowsk said.
People who were smokers had lower systol and diastic blood pressure compared to nonsmokers, and the difference was most pronounced for those who smoked daily.
People also had lower levels of sodium and potassium in their blood, which means they had higher blood levels of those things, as well.
“They were all less likely to live longer,” Sotnowski said.
Smokers have a blood pressure that varies greatly depending on their age, sex and other factors, so the researchers used this to figure out the effects that nicotine use had on blood pressures.
“People who smoke tend to have lower pressures,” Sowinski said.
The team also tested the effect of smoking on blood glucose levels and found that those who had smoked had higher levels of both, and lower levels in people with diabetes.
The researchers didn’t examine other factors that could be driving blood pressure, such as smoking’s effect on cholesterol and the amount of exercise people do.
Sowski said it’s possible that the difference in blood pressure could be because of people being more active, or that the effect could be caused by a drug, or a medication that people take to control blood pressure symptoms.
Other findings of the paper include that people with high blood pressure who smoke had significantly lower levels than those who weren’t.
“This is an important finding because it helps us understand the impact of tobacco on blood and blood vessel function,” Sowsinski said, noting that the blood vessels of people with blood pressure problems also tend to be thinner.
The research is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.