The president of the British Thoracic Society has expressed concern at new figures pointing to a sharp increase in the risk of non-fatal heart attacks for smokers under the age of 40.
The research found that non-fatal heart attacks in people aged between 35 and 39 "seem exclusively caused by smoking", according to Professor Stephen Spiro.
Professor Spiro revealed that 80 per cent of younger men and 71 per cent of younger women who suffered heart attacks were smokers.
Speaking on Sky News this morning, he described it as "a worrying finding".
"It seems that smoking is affecting a normal heart because these people are getting the heart attacks before they would develop the usual degeneration of the heart and its circulation - called arteriosclerosis - which normally occurs in people's 50s or 60s."
Professor Spiro issued a specific warning about the health effects of smoking on women.
He highlighted that fact that young women are smoking more than men and young girls and smoking more than younger boys, "so there is an epidemic on its way of smoking particularly in women," he said.
The report - which appears in the journal Tobacco Control - is based on World Health Organisation figures.
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