According to the American Heart Association, smoking-related diseases kill over 440,000 Americans each year. The majority of new smokers are teenagers and children. Smokers are at higher risk of lung disease. Smokers are at higher risk of lung disease, including lung cancer and emphysema. Also, they are at increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Smoking and heart disease: Facts
- Heart disease is responsible for one out of five smoking-related deaths.
- Heart disease and stroke are more likely to affect women over 35 who smoke or use birth control pills.
- Smokers are up to four times more likely than non-smokers to develop heart disease.
- Smoking cigarettes doubles the risk of stroke.
What is the effect of smoking on the heart and blood vessels
- Increases blood pressure both instantly and over time.
- Increases heart rate instantly and for a long time.
- Reduces blood flow to the heart.
- Reduces oxygen reaching the tissues of the body.
- Blood clots are more likely to occur.
- Blood vessels are damaged.
- Reduced blood flow in the brain can double the risk of stroke.
Smoking is also linked to depression and stress.
What are the dangers of secondhand smoking?
According to the CDC, secondhand smoke is responsible for about 34,000 deaths of non-smokers each year. Smoke exhaled from smokers is secondhand smoke. Smoke from a lit cigar, cigarette or pipe is also included.
Smoke exposure is harmful to young children, pregnant women and infants. Smoked tobacco is more likely to cause ear infections in children and infants. These children are at a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Secondhand smoke exposure can cause these symptoms.
- Itching of the nose, eyes and throat
- Mucus in the airways (excessive phlegm)
- Chest pain from lung irritation
- Chest pain
The symptoms of secondhand smoking can look similar to other medical conditions or problems. Consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Smoking and heart disease
As a major risk factor for heart diseases, smoking is ranked first, followed by high cholesterol, hypertension, inactivity, diabetes, and obesity. Smoking is the most common cause of premature death in the U.S.
Why Quit Smoking?
The AHA states that quitting smoking can reduce the risk of heart disease, heart attacks and death from heart disease by half. The research also indicates that quitting smoking can be a key factor in preventing heart attacks. This includes atherosclerosis and blood clots, as well as abnormal heart rhythms.
You should be mentally prepared and stress-free to be successful. You need to be physically committed to getting enough sleep and exercising every day. The person who wants to stop smoking must overcome two obstacles: a physical dependence on nicotine and a bad habit. National Cancer Institute provides these tips for users to quit smoking tobacco products.
- Consider why you wish to stop.
- Pick a stress-free time to quit.
- Encouragement and support from friends, family and colleagues are always welcome.
- Exercise or do some activity every day to reduce stress and improve health.
- Rest well.
- Balance your diet.
- Join a support group or a program to help you quit smoking.
- Replace your smoking habits with healthier alternatives.
Nicotine replacement products may help to break the smoking habit in some cases. Nicotine replacement products provide smokers with nicotine to satisfy their nicotine craving. Nicotine replacement products, however, do not emit the toxic gases and tars that cigarettes do. Before using nicotine replacement products, pregnant or nursing women as well as people with medical conditions are advised to consult their doctor. Examples of nicotine replacement products are:
- Nicotine gum. Nicotine chewing gum is a nicotine-releasing gum available over the counter that helps reduce withdrawal symptoms.
- Nicotine patch. A nicotine patch is an over-the counter patch that can be applied once daily to the upper part of the body to release a constant dose of nicotine. This helps reduce the desire to smoke.
- Inhaler or nasal spray containing nicotine. Prescription nicotine replacement products that release nicotine to reduce withdrawal symptoms.
Smoking cessation medicines
- Bupropion. This is an alternative to nicotine that can help you stop smoking. The FDA has approved it. Bupropion, which is available in pill form for smokers looking to quit smoking, has been shown by research to change mood transmitters that are associated with addiction in the brain. Bupropion is only available on prescription from a healthcare professional and may not work for everyone. For more information, ask your healthcare provider.
- Varenicline. It is also a non nicotine pill that can help you stop smoking. FDA has approved it. It targets nicotine receptors within the brain. Varenicline attaches itself to receptors, preventing nicotine from reaching them. This reduces the desire to smoke. Varenicline is not for everyone.