Among the major Coronary Risk Factors (CRF) cigarette smoking has shown undoubtedly harmful effects on the heart and blood vessels either as active smoking (smoking a cigarette) or passive smoking (exposure to environmental tobacco smoke -ETS). The strong relationship between cigarette smoking and cardiovascular disease has been seen independent of the other CRF in a number of well-designated epidemiologic studies. However, a strong increase in the excess of cardiovascular risk has been defined along with the interaction of cigarette smoking and other major CRF. Thousands of pharmacologically active substances are present in tobacco smoke, and a large number of direct and indirect effects have been demonstrated. Different responses are also related to these types of exposure: active exposure or passive exposure. The cardiovascular risk increases with increasing levels of blood pressure and / or serum cholesterol and diabetes mellitus, and at each level of these three risk factors, distributed with different rates according to age and gender in individuals, the risk in active smokers or passive smokers is greater than the risk in nonsmokers. Further analytical and methodological observations are needed for better understanding of the chemical and biological synergism. Nevertheless, evidence is clear that cigarette smoking greatly increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases in individuals already at increased risk because of other CRF. Preventive measures must be absolutely conducted to prevent the CRF interaction. These are the changes in lifestyle (i.e. to give up smoking and make physical activity), drug administration, diet supplementation especially by those substances with antioxidant effects.
Keywords: cigarette smoking, coronary risk factors, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, environmental tobacco smoke, serum cholesterol, crf interaction, antioxidant effects
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