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Dr. Casey Ryan, Grand Forks, letter: Avoiding smoke can improve heart health

GRAND FORKS -- In accordance with World Heart Day on Saturday, I'd like to remind Herald readers of the dangerous connection between secondhand smoke and heart attacks and heart disease.

Eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke is an important step in maintaining a healthy heart.

Secondhand smoke has long been known to increase the risk of heart attack, heart disease and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke increase their risk of heart disease by as much as 25 to 30 percent.

Furthermore, it's thought that even shorter-term exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of heart attacks.

And eliminating secondhand smoke has immediate health benefits. Also, smoke-free laws may reduce the incidence of heart attacks, according to research conducted in our region by UND at Altru Health System and the Mayo Clinic.

Another important thing to remember is that all of the heart attacks, heart disease and strokes that are caused by secondhand smoke or smoking in general are entirely preventable.

By living a healthy, smoke-free lifestyle and avoiding secondhand smoke, we can all look forward to happier, healthier lives.

So, as we approach World Heart Day, I encourage North Dakotans to make healthy decisions that include limiting their exposure to secondhand smoke. That simple step will help keep your heart healthy by decreasing your risk of heart attack and heart disease.

Casey Ryan

Dr. Ryan is president of Altru Health System.

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