Smoking associated with increased risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes

A doctor looks at a tablet

Smoking causes damage to the heart and lungs, which has been linked to increased risks for heart and lung disease. However, researchers weren’t sure about the impact smoking had on the severity of COVID-19 outcomes. After reviewing data from 6,717 adults who received hospital care for COVID-19, researchers found adults who used tobacco or electronic cigarettes were more likely to experience severe complications compared to non-smokers.  
To generate these findings, the authors used data from the American Heart Association’s Get-With-The-Guidelines COVID-19 Registry. They matched adults based on factors, like age, sex, and medical history, as well as medication use and length of hospital stay. Based on these data, they found adults who smoked had a 15% greater chance of requiring mechanical ventilation and a 41% greater chance of death compared to non-smokers. Adults who smoked also had a 27% greater chance of experiencing cardiovascular complications, such as heart failure or stroke.  

The authors note the data underscore the urgent need for public health interventions, especially during COVID-19, to help people quit smoking and avoid tobacco.  

The study published in PLoS One and was supported by NHLBI.