A person’s risk of heart disease and heart attack greatly increases with the number of cigarettes he or she smokes. People who smoke have a two to four times higher chance of developing heart disease. Smokers continue to increase their risk of heart attack, the longer they smoke. When you smoke, the people around you are also at risk for developing health problems, especially children. Secondhand smoke can cause chronic respiratory conditions, cancer and heart diseases. Smokers have a higher risk of developing several chronic disorders and coronary heart problems which lead to heart attacks. These include fatty build-ups in arteries, several types of cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (lung problems). Atherosclerosis (build-up of fatty substances in the arteries) is a chief contributor to the high number of deaths from smoking. Smoking increases blood pressure, decreases exercise tolerance and increases the tendency for blood to clot. It also increases the risk of recurrent coronary heart disease after bypass surgery. Women who smoke and use oral contraceptives greatly increase their risk of coronary heart disease and stroke compared with non-smoking women who use oral contraceptives. Smoking decreases HDL (good) cholesterol. If it is combined with a family history of heart disease also it seems to greatly increase the risk. Smoking is a key risk factor for stroke. It also creates a higher risk for peripheral arterial disease. People who smoke cigars or pipes seem to have a higher risk of death from coronary heart disease (and possibly stroke), but their risk isn’t as great as that of cigarette smokers. This is probably because they’re less likely to inhale the smoke. The link between second-hand smoke and disease is well known, and the connection to cardiovascular-related disability and death is also clear. Numerous premature deaths from heart and blood vessel disease are caused by passive smoking each year.
HOW DOES SMOKING INCREASE HEART DISEASE RISK? The nicotine present in smoke causes heart disease by:
- Decreasing flow of oxygen to the heart.
- Increasing blood pressure and heart rate.
- Increasing blood clotting.
- Damage to cells that line coronary arteries and other blood vessels.
HOW CAN QUITTING SMOKING BE HELPFUL? The benefits include:
- Prolong your life.
- Reduce your risk of disease (including heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, lung cancer, throat cancer, ulcers, gum disease and other conditions).
- Feel healthier. You will increase your stamina.
- Improve your sense of taste and smell.