So what are our southern neighbors doing that's so heart healthy? Researchers at Mayo think it's because they can't light up in the local bars, restaurants, or any other workplace.
Smoking bans -- good for your dry cleaning bill, and now apparently good for your heart.[jump]
The numbers come from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a unique survey which tracks the medical records of 95 percent of the county's patients long-term.
In 2002, Olmstead County passed its first smoking ban in restaurants, then in 2007 a more comprehensive ban was passed for all bars, restaurants, and workplaces.
In that time frame, smoking itself dropped 23 percent, but the rates of heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrests plummeted. In 2000, the incidence of heart attack was 212.3 cases per 100,000 residents, and by 2009, the numbers showed only 102.9 cases. The incidents of sudden cardiac arrest death also fell, from 152.5 to 76.6 cases. That's a 45 percent reduction in heart attacks overall, and a 50 percent reduction in death due to cardiac arrest.
During the same time period rates of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity remained either stable or increased, so it's not like half of Olmstead County spontaneously cut red meat out of their diets at the same time.
The study's authors say that's hard proof that smoking bans are effective and that no one with any coronary heart problems should be around secondhand smoke. They want to use the figures to help other cities and countries jump on the ban-wagon.
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