If you are under the age of 50 and a regular smoker, you may be more than eight times at risk of suffering a major heart attack as compared to non-smokers or people who quit smoking, researchers have warned.
The study showed that smokers of all age-group were more than three times likely to have a STEMI than ex- and non-smokers combined.
But the highest risk was among the under-50s who were nearly 8.5 times as likely to do so as former and non-smokers of the same age.
According to researchers, this risk, however, fell with increasing age, dropping to a five-fold difference among 50-65 year olds, and a three-fold difference among the over 65s.
A STEMI, or ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, refers to the typical pattern seen on an electrocardiogram (ECG), indicating that a large portion of the heart muscle is dying.
In the study, current smokers tended to be 10-11 years younger than ex- or non-smokers when they had their STEMI. And, along with ex-smokers, were twice as likely to have had previous episodes of coronary artery disease.
They were also three times likely to have peripheral vascular disease a condition in which a build-up of fatty deposits in the blood vessels restricts blood supply to the legs, the researchers said.