Avoiding Tobacco After a Heart Attack: A Healthy Choice

Quitting snus after a heart attack was linked to lower death risk

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) After a heart attack, quitting smoking can be a life-saving health decision. Could quitting smokeless tobacco have the same effect?

A recent study looked at the effects of quitting snus, or oral tobacco, after a heart attack.

The researchers found that people who had previously used snus and quit after a heart attack had a lower risk of death than people who continued to use the tobacco product.

These researchers suggested that doctors should discourage use of snus, particularly for patients who have had a heart attack.

"Do not use tobacco products."

Gabriel Arefalk, MD, of the Department of Medical Sciences at Uppsala University Hospital, led this study.

Consumption of smokeless tobacco, often called snus or oral moist snuff, is increasing the United States, according to the study's authors.

The highest prevalence of snuff use is in Sweden, where 20% of the male and 3% of the female adult population are daily users.

Like smoking tobacco, snus have carcinogens and nicotine.

This study looked at the health effects of quitting snus after a heart attack.

The researchers recruited participants who had been admitted to a hospital between 2005 and 2009 and diagnosed with a heart attack.

These participants were classified as post-heart attack snus users, post-heart attack snus quitters, pre-heart attack snus quitters, and those who had never used snus.

The participants underwent an examination two months after discharge from the hospital. The researchers took note of the participants' health behaviors and continued to follow up with the participants periodically for a maximum of 4.9 years.

The researchers found that 2,474 of the study participants had been snus users. Of those participants, 675 quit using snus after having a heart attack.

During follow-up, 83 snus users died — 14 snus quitters and 69 patients who had continued to use snus.

The researchers found that the rate of death among snus users was almost twice that of snus quitters during the course of the study.

The researchers concluded that quitting snus use after a heart attack was tied to a lower risk of death.

This study was published on June 23 in Circulation.

The research was supported by grants from the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation, the Swedish Research Council and the Swedish Geriatric Fund. The researchers disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
June 23, 2014
Last Updated:
June 24, 2014