Smoke & Blood Clots

Secondhand smoke raises risk factors for blood clots

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Studies have shown that secondhand smoke can still put people at risk for health problems, but how? The answers are in the blood.

A recent study tested the blood of 55 people for platelet and carbon monoxide levels after an hour in a smoking room.

Results showed an increase in risk for blood clots.

"Be upfront - tell people not to smoke around you."

Mehmet G. Kaya, MD, associate professor in the Department of Cardiology at Erciyes University in Turkey, led an investigation into what secondhand smoke does to blood oxygen and platelet activity in the body.

Dr. Kaya’s team set out to closely watch three things in the bodies of 55 healthy non-smokers aged 21-31.

They were looking at mean platelet volume (MPV, the average size of a platelet), carboxyhemoglobin (COHb, hemoglobin that has carbon monoxide attached to it) and lactate (a waste product from muscle activity) in the blood stream.

MPV levels could indicate risk for blood clots, stroke or aneurysm. COHb levels could indicate carbon monoxide (CO), which can lead to a risk of cardiovascular disease.

Lactate builds up in the blood stream when blood needs more oxygen.

Each of the participants had their blood measured at the beginning of the study and after spending an hour in a smoking room being exposed to secondhand smoke.

Results showed that after exposure, COHb levels went from 0.8 to 1.2 percent, MPV levels rose from 7.8 percent to 8.5 percent and lactate levels rose from 0.7 percent to 2.2 percent.

Dr. Kaya said, “We have shown that one hour exposure to passive smoking (secondhand smoke) increases platelet activation, which could be the mechanism by which it contributes to increased risk of thrombotic events (blood clots) in healthy people.”

Authors recommend people avoid secondhand smoke to prevent the possibility of blood clotting, depriving the body of oxygen and exposure to carbon monoxide. 

These study results were presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress, August 25-29th, 2012 in Munich, Germany.

No financial information was provided, and no conflicts of interest were found.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 4, 2012
Last Updated:
September 4, 2012