Early exposure to tobacco smoke is associated with various adverse health outcomes in children and adolescents, including low birth weight and impaired lung growth and function. Tobacco smoke is considered highly atherogenic in adults, but little is known about the impact of tobacco smoke exposure on cardiovascular health in adolescents. Children and adolescents are exposed to tobacco smoke through passive and active smoking. Atherosclerosis is a multi-factorial disease which begins in childhood and in utero. Tobacco smoke exerts its effects through toxic compounds which cross the placental barrier and alveolar wall of the lungs.
This leads to increased local and systemic inflammation. The Swiss Study on Air Pollution And Lung and Heart Disease In Adults (SAPALDIA) is a multicentre study of nearly 10,000 subjects. The SAPALDIA Youth Study included 351 offspring of SAPALDIA participants aged 8 -20 years. It investigated the cardiovascular risk profile and the association between active smoking and carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT), an early indicator of atherosclerotic changes in the vessel wall.
For the current study presented at the ESC Congress, 288 of the offspring underwent a clinical examination following a standardized protocol: anthropometry, blood pressure, ultrasound CIMT assessment, and blood tests for cardiovascular biomarkers. Subjects reported their level of physical activity, smoking status and exposure to passive smoking. Cotinine testing was used to validate smoking status and exposure to passive smoke.