Smoking and Heart Disease
The American Heart Association (AHA)
says diseases caused by smoking kill more than 440,000 people in the U.S. each year. Most
new smokers are children and teens. Smokers have higher risk for lung disease. This
includes lung cancer and emphysema. They also have a higher risk for heart disease and
Facts about smoking and heart disease
One out of every 5 smoking-related deaths is caused by heart disease.
Women older than 35 who smoke and take birth control pills are at much greater risk for heart disease or stroke.
Cigarette smokers are 2 to 4 times more likely to get heart disease than nonsmokers.
Cigarette smoking doubles a person's risk for stroke.
How does smoking change the heart and blood vessels?
Causes an instant and
long-term rise in blood pressure
Causes an instant and
long-term rise in heart rate
Reduces blood flow from the
Reduces the amount of oxygen
that reaches the body's tissues
Raises risk for blood
Harms blood vessels
Reduces blood flow to the
Smoking has also been linked with depression and stress.
What are the risks of secondhand smoke?
The CDC says about 34,000
nonsmokers die from heart disease each year from secondhand tobacco smoke. Secondhand
smoke is smoke exhaled by smokers. It also includes smoke from the burning end of a lit
cigarette, cigar, or pipe.
Secondhand smoke can cause health
problems for pregnant women, babies, and young children. Children and babies who are
around tobacco smoke are more likely to have ear infections and asthma. They are also at
higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
These symptoms may be from
Irritation of the eyes, nose,
Extra phlegm (mucus) in the
Chest pain from lung
The symptoms of secondhand smoke
may look like other health conditions. Always see your healthcare provider for a
Smoking and heart disease
Smoking tops the list of risk
factors for heart disease. Other risk factors include high cholesterol, high blood
pressure, physical inactivity, obesity, and diabetes. In fact, smoking is the single
most preventable cause of early death in the U.S.
Why quit smoking?
According to the AHA, stopping
smoking reduces the risk for heart disease by half. It also lowers the risk for repeat
heart attacks and death by heart disease by half. Research also shows that quitting
smoking helps lower the risk for things that can cause a heart attack. These include
atherosclerosis, blood clots, and heart rhythm problems.
To quit, you need to be mentally
ready and relatively stress-free. Physically, you need to commit to exercising every day
and getting plenty of sleep. You must overcome 2 obstacles. One is the physical
addiction to nicotine. The other is the habit of smoking. The National
Cancer Institute offers these tips to help you quit using tobacco:
Think about why you want to quit.
Pick a stress-free time to quit.
Ask for support and encouragement from family, friends, and co-workers.
Start doing some exercise or
activity each day to ease stress and improve your health.
Get plenty of rest.
Eat a balanced diet.
Join a quit-smoking program,
or other support group.
Disconnect your activities of smoking and replace them with newer healthier activities.
In some cases, nicotine replacement
products can help break a smoking habit. Nicotine replacement products continue to give
you nicotine to meet your nicotine craving. But these products don't contain the tars
and toxic gases that cigarettes have. Talk with your healthcare provider before you
using these products if you are pregnant or nursing, or have a health condition. Some
examples of nicotine replacement products are:
Nicotine chewing gum. An
over-the-counter chewing gum that releases small amounts of nicotine to help ease
nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
Nicotine patch. An
over-the-counter patch put on the upper body once a day that releases a steady
dose of nicotine to help reduce the urge to smoke.
Nicotine inhaler or nose
spray. A prescription product that releases nicotine to help reduce
withdrawal symptoms. This needs a doctor's approval before use.
Medicines to help you quit smoking
Bupropion. This is a
non-nicotine medicine to help you stop smoking. It is approved by the FDA. It
comes in pill form. It changes the mood transmitters in the brain that are
linked to addiction. Bupropion must be prescribed by a healthcare provider. It may
not be right for everyone. Ask your healthcare provider for more information.
Varenicline. This is also a
non-nicotine pill to help you quit smoking. It is approved by the FDA. It works on
the nicotine receptors in the brain. Varenicline blocks nicotine from reaching
them. This eases the desire for nicotine. Varenicline may not be right for