More than 17,000 heart attacks could be prevented in the UK after smoking in public places was banned, a conference heard yesterday.'Don't lose weight after heart attack'
A study has found that the number of heart attacks in Ireland dropped by 14 per cent in the year after the introduction of a ban.
It could mean one in seven of the 123,000 heart attacks annually across the UK could be prevented if the results were replicated. The findings were presented at the European Society of Cardiology annual congress in Vienna, Austria. England followed the rest of the UK and went smoke-free on July 1.
The drop in heart attacks was more marked in smokers than non-smokers, suggesting they smoked less as a result of the ban.
The effect in non-smokers is likely to be because they were exposed to less passive smoking at work and in bars and restaurants after the ban. But worryingly, other studies found half of smokers who had a heart attack continued to smoke.
Dr Edmond Cronin, of Cork University Hospital in Ireland, said: "A national ban on smoking in public places resulted in a decrease in admissions for heart attack, especially in smokers. Our study provides evidence of the rapid effect of banning smoking in public places on decreasing the burden of heart attacks."
Ireland introduced a ban on smoking in public places on March 29, 2004.