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Smoking ban slashes heart attack rate

The ban on public smoking has greatly reduced the number of people admitted to hospital for heart attacks, a study has shown.

The Sunday Times reported that early results of a Department of Health study show a 10% drop in heart attack rates in England, a year after the ban was introduced in July 2007. In Scotland, where the ban was brought in a year earlier, the figure fell by 14%. A study in Wales is expected to show similar results.

Anna Gilmore of Bath University, leader of the study in England said: "There is already overwhelming evidence that reducing people's exposure to cigarette smoke reduces hospital admissions due to heart attacks."

Ellen Mason, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Exposure to cigarette smoke induces rapid changes in blood chemistry, making it much more prone to clotting. In someone who has narrowed or damaged coronary arteries, smoke exposure can tip the balance and cause a heart attack."

Smoking bans have yielded similar results in other western European countries: France saw 15% drop in heart attacks after a year of the ban, and Ireland and Italy recorded a 11% drop.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Bath University