Objectives: To investigate the effect of a change in second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure on heart rate variability (HRV) and pulse wave velocity (PWV), this study utilized a quasi-experimental setting when a smoking ban was introduced.
Methods: HRV, a quantitative marker of autonomic activity of the nervous system, and PWV, a marker of arterial stiffness, were measured in 55 non-smoking hospitality workers before and 3–12 months after a smoking ban and compared to a control group that did not experience an exposure change. SHS exposure was determined with a nicotine-specific badge and expressed as inhaled cigarette equivalents per day (CE/d).
Results: PWV and HRV parameters significantly changed in a dose-dependent manner in the intervention group as compared to the control group. A one CE/d decrease was associated with a 2.3 % (95 % CI 0.2–4.4; p = 0.031) higher root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD), a 5.7 % (95 % CI 0.9–10.2; p = 0.02) higher high-frequency component and a 0.72 % (95 % CI 0.40–1.05; p < 0.001) lower PWV.
Conclusions: PWV and HRV significantly improved after introducing smoke-free workplaces indicating a decreased cardiovascular risk.