Irreversible effects of long-term chronic smoking on arterial stiffness: An analysis focusing on ex-smokers among otherwise healthy middle-aged men

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Objective: Smoking is a modifiable cardiovascular risk factor closely related to arterial stiffness (AS). However, data are lacking regarding the chronic effects of smoking on AS, especially in ex-smoker (ES) who faces remnant cardiovascular risk when compared to never-smokers (NS). Methods: Among 1722 health screening participants, we retrospectively evaluated 652 healthy men with different smoking history [240 current smoker (CS) vs. 228 ES vs. 184 NS]. To assess AS, augmentation index (AIx), pulse pressure amplification (PPamp), and carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV) were measured and compared. Results: Baseline characteristics were similar except age and triglyceride level. AIx was lowest in NS, followed by ES, and was highest in CS. PPamp was highest in NS, lowest in CS, and ES was of intermediate level. The differences were more robust after adjustment for baseline covariates (AIx, p = 0.005; PPamp: p = 0.001). On the other hand, no significant intergroup difference was observed for cfPWV in our middle-aged population. With the regression analyses revealing an independent association between smoking duration and AS in ES, subgroup analysis demonstrated that long-term ES (smoking duration ≥20 years) had significantly higher AS than short-term ES (<20 years) and NS, approaching levels comparable to CS (AIx and PPamp: p < 0.0001). Conclusions: Our study demonstrated impaired arterial elastic properties in long-term ES, suggesting that AS caused by chronic smoking might be irreversible even after smoking cessation. Further longitudinal studies are warranted to determine the impacts of past smoking on AS and its clinical relevance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical and Experimental Hypertension
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2018 Jan 1



  • arterial stiffness
  • Ex-smoker
  • irreversible effect
  • Smoking
  • smoking cessation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Physiology

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