(HealthDay News) – Following implementation of workplace smoke-free laws, the incidence of myocardial infarction (MI) decreased significantly in Olmsted County, MN.

To evaluate the population impact of smoke-free laws, Richard D. Hurt, MD, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and colleagues utilized data from the Rochester Epidemiology Project. The incidence of MI and sudden cardiac death in Olmsted County during the 18-month period before and after implementation of each smoke-free ordinance was assessed.

The researchers found that the incidence of MI declined significantly by 33%, from 150.8 to 100.7 per 100,000 population when comparing the 18 months before implementation of the smoke-free restaurant ordinance (implemented in 2002) with the 18 months after implementation of the smoke-free workplace law (implemented in 2007). During the same period, the incidence of sudden cardiac death decreased by 17% (P=0.13), from 109.1 to 92.0 per 100,000 population. While the prevalence of smoking declined, the prevalence of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, and obesity either remained constant or increased during the same period.

“The implementation of smoke-free workplace ordinances was associated with a substantial decrease in MI, the magnitude of which is not explained by concomitant community interventions or changes in cardiovascular risk factors, with the exception of smoking prevalence,” the authors write. “Exposure to secondhand smoke should be considered a modifiable risk factor for MI.”

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