Dr. Richard Hurt, director of the Nicotine Dependence Center at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minn., and colleagues found during the 18 months before Olmsted County, where the famed medical facility is based, banned smoking in restaurants in 2002, the regional incidence of heart attack was 212.3 cases per 100,000 residents.
However, the study found in the 18 months following a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance in 2007 -- restaurants and workplaces became smoke-free -- that rate dropped to 102.9 per 100,000 residents, a decrease of about 45 percent. The incidence of sudden cardiac death fell from 152.5 to 76.6 per 100,000 residents -- a 50 percent reduction.
"The study shows that everyone, especially people with known coronary artery disease, should avoid contact with secondhand smoke. They should have no -- literally no -- exposure to secondhand smoke because it is too dangerous to their health," Hurt said in a statement.
"We are going to use this information to help us convince corporations -- convince countries -- that this is the right thing to do to protect the health of their workers and their citizens."
The findings were published in the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Fla.