Smokers' Risk of Sudden Death Drops After Quitting

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"In contrast," they wrote, "the more immediate ... risk reduction observed among women without coronary heart disease may, in part, be explained by alleviation of acute pro-arrhythmic effects of nicotine such as reductions in catecholamine release, alteration of potassium handling, and lowering of ventricular fibrillation threshold caused by transient enhanced platelet adhesion."

The researchers acknowledged some limitations of the study, including possible misclassification of cigarette consumption based on self-report, possible error in determining sudden cardiac death, the lack of information about the severity of coronary heart disease events during follow-up, and potential residual or unmeasured confounding.

In addition, the study population was mostly white, female nurses, and the findings may not apply to other groups.

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