Carotid and femoral atherosclerosis, cardiovascular risk factors and C-reactive protein in relation to smokeless tobacco use or smoking in 58-year-old men

K Wallenfeldt, J Hulthe, L Bokemark, J Wikstrand, B Fagerberg
Journal of Internal Medicine 2001, 250 (6): 492-501
Objectives. To examine the associations between smokeless tobacco use, smoking, cardiovascular risk factors, inflammation and ultrasound-assessed measures of atherosclerosis in the carotid and femoral arteries. Subjects. The study was performed in a population-based sample of clinically healthy men (n = 391) all 58 years old. Exclusion criteria were cardiovascular or other clinically overt diseases or continuous medication with cardiovascular drugs. Methods. The habits of smoking and oral moist snuff use were assessed by questionnaires. C-reactive protein (CRP) was assessed by high sensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Intima-media thickness (IMT) in the carotid bulb, the common carotid artery and the common femoral artery and plaque occurrence were measured by ultrasound. Results. The use of oral moist snuff was associated with serum triglycerides and waist-hip ratio (WHR), but not with CRP or ultrasound-assessed measures of subclinical atherosclerosis. Smoking, on the other hand, was associated with CRP, the components in the metabolic syndrome and IMT as well as plaques in the carotid and femoral arteries. In comparison to never-smokers the current smokers had higher values of WHR, triglycerides, C-reactive protein and IMT in carotid bulb and femoral artery. Ex-smokers were in general more obese and had a femoral IMT that was in-between that of never-smokers and current smokers. Conclusions. Tobacco smoking, but not oral moist snuff use, was associated with carotid and femoral artery IMT, and increased levels of CRP. Current smoking was also associated with abdominal obesity. Ex-smokers though, are generally more obese. Smoking was also associated with hyperinsulinaemia, dyslipidaemia and high blood pressure, i.e. the metabolic syndrome. The inhaled smoke from the combustion of tobacco seems to be an important aetiological factor in the atherosclerotic process.

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