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Smoking shisha could increase risk of heart attacks, researchers find



People who smoke shisha regularly could be at risk of developing long term high blood pressure, subsequently increasing the threat of a heart attack or stroke, according to new research.

The research, published in JRSM Open, the publication of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, shows that heart rate, blood pressure and carbon monoxide levels rise significantly immediately after smoking shisha.

The study was carried out in 2012 in six London shisha cafés where participants smoked shisha for a period between 45 and 90 minutes.

The researchers found: ‘Mean arterial blood pressure increased from 96 mmHg to 108 mmHg (p < 0.001). Heart rate increased from 77 to 91 bpm (p < 0.001). Carbon monoxide increased from an average of 3 to 35 ppm (p < 0.001). A correlation analysis showed no relationship between carbon monoxide and the other indices measured.’

Professor Brendan Madden of St. George’s, University of London, who supervised the research, said: ‘There is minimum public awareness of the health risks of shisha smoking and a lack of scientific interest. This research shows that the elevation in heart rate witnessed after smoking shisha may, like smoking cigarettes, act as a marker of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

‘Further research is needed to verify the results of this research and to investigate the wider effects of smoking shisha. If future studies note the same effects of this research then the public should be made aware of the health effects of shisha smoking. This would include mandatory labelling of shisha tobacco packs and apparatus with ‘smoking kills’, which to date is not enforced at shisha cafés.’

Leading academics and public health experts have called on the World Health Organization to refrain from ‘reducing the use’ of e-cigarettes.