A new study has found that cigarette smoke exposure prior to a heart transplant in either the donor, recipient, or both, accelerates the death of a transplanted heart.
The study conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore showed that tobacco smoke leads to accelerated immune system rejection of the transplanted heart, heightened vascular inflammation and increased oxidative stress, and a reduction in the transplanted organ's chance of survival by 33-57 percent.
The study, conducted in rats, involved exposure to levels of tobacco equivalent to that of a habitual, light-to-moderate-range smoker and included comparisons between smoking and non-smoking donors and recipients.
"Our research shows that if a heart donor has been a habitual smoker, and you put that heart in a non-smoking recipient, that heart won't work; it will be rejected," says the study's senior author, Mandeep R. Mehra, professor of medicine, head of the Division of Cardiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and chief of cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
"This study shows beyond a shadow of a doubt how smoking affects transplantation," Mehra added.
The study has been published this month in the journal Circulation.