We have investigated the relationship between cigarette smoking, packed cell volume, haemoglobin concentration, and arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2) in 114 non-smokers, 66 light smokers (1-20 cigarettes a day), and 50 heavy smokers (over 20 cigarettes a day) aged 20-75 years. Packed cell volume was greater in female heavy smokers (p less than 0.001) over 40 years of age and in all female smokers over 60 years (p less than 0.001) than in non-smoking contemporaries. Haemoglobin concentrations were higher in 40-59 year old female heavy smokers (p less than 0.05) and in male and female light (p less than 0.05) and heavy smokers (p less than 0.001) over 60 years of age than in non-smoking contemporaries. SaO2 was lower in 20-39 year old male heavy smokers (p less than 0.02) and female (p less than 0.05) light smokers and also in 40-59 year old male light and heavy smokers (p less than 0.001) and female light smokers (p less than 0.02) than in non-smoking contemporaries. It was also lower in female light (p less than 0.05) and heavy (p less than 0.02) smokers over 60 years, whereas it was higher in male light smokers over 60 (p less than 0.001). Changes in SaO2 were seen at a younger age than changes in haemoglobin concentration and packed cell volume.
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