Public smoking ban would reduce heart attack admissions



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The number of heart attack patients admitted to Michigan hospitals could be significantly reduced if a statewide public smoking ban were implemented, according to a Henry Ford Hospital study.

Researchers looked at the average number of hospital admissions from 1999-2006 in Michigan for what is known as acute myocardial infarction, or heart attack, and concluded that a smoking ban could lead to 3,340 fewer admissions annually.

“If Michigan were to implement a comprehensive smoking ban tomorrow, we would see a 12 percent drop in heart attack admissions after the first year,” says Mouaz Al-Mallah, M.D., Henry Ford’s director of Cardiac Imaging Research and lead author of the study.

While the study did not look at medical care costs, researchers theorize the reduction in admissions could mean substantial savings to health care providers. The average cost of a heart-attack admission in Michigan is about $16,000.

The study, funded by the hospital, will be presented Tuesday, Nov. 11 at the American Heart Association’s annual conference in New Orleans.

Dr. Al-Mallah says the health benefits to a smoking ban are hard to ignore.

“When you smoke, you’re not only hurting yourself but you’re hurting me, too,” he says. “The bottom line is that even if you save just one heart attack, it is something significant.”

The study comes in the midst of an ongoing debate in the Michigan Legislature on whether to outlaw smoking in all public workplaces like bars, restaurants and smoke shops. Smoking already is banned in state and federal government buildings and hospitals.

In September, a comprehensive smoking ban fell six votes short of approval in the Michigan House.

According to Michigan figures, nearly 22 percent of Michigan adults smoke and more than 14,000 adults die each year from their own smoking. Smoking in Michigan accounts for an estimated $3.4 billion in health care costs every year.

Henry Ford’s findings mirror the results of several similar studies. In 2007, a study found an 8 percent reduction in hospital admissions one year after the state of New York implemented a public smoking ban. Studies in several European countries had similar results.

Henry Ford researchers used a statistical method called meta-analysis to calculate the impact of a smoking ban and hospital admission incidence. Researchers used the average rate of hospital admissions for heart attack for the past eight years, then multiplied that rate with the attributable risk calculated from several studies — two in Italy, one in Scotland and one each in Montana, Colorado and New York — to estimate the projected rate of heart attack admissions in Michigan if a smoking ban was enacted.

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