If you’re a smoker — and even if you aren’t — it’s important to know the health problems that can arise from this habit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking causes one of every four cardiovascular disease (CVD) deaths. CVD is also the single largest cause of death in America, killing more than 800,000 people per year.
It doesn’t matter how many (or how few!) cigarettes you smoke per day; it can still have nasty effects on your heart and overall health. People who smoke less than five cigarettes a day may show signs of CVD.
Smoking and the cardiovascular system
When you smoke, the chemicals in cigarette smoke cause the cells that line the blood vessels to become swollen and inflamed. This can narrow the blood vessels and lead to many cardiovascular conditions.
Smoking increases the chance for strokes and coronary heart disease. Cigarette smoke cause the blood to thicken and form clots inside veins and arteries, which can lead to a heart attack and sudden death.
Risks of secondhand smoke
If you aren’t a smoker but live with one or are around them quite often, exposure to secondhand smoke can cause heart disease in nonsmokers. More than 33,000 nonsmokers die every year in the United States. Exposure to the smoke can also cause strokes and heart attacks.
How to quit
While it’s tough to know which smokers will develop CVD, it’s best for all to quit to help their hearts. Within a year of quitting, the risk of a heart attack drops dramatically and within five years, a smoker can reduce their risk of a stroke to that of a person who has never smoked.
Cutting smoking out of your life is no easy task. We have a few tips that may help you resist the urge to smoke — and may help you live a life without tobacco.
- Try nicotine patches or gum.
- Avoid triggers.
- Chew gum or hard candy to help resist a tobacco craving.
- Don’t have “just one.”
- Join a support group.
Am I a Candidate?
Determine if you are at risk for developing or already have symptoms for venous disease.