Smoking And Heart Disease

The facts:

  • If you are a smoker, quitting is the biggest step you can take to reduce the risk of having a heart attack.
  • For people with heart conditions, giving up smoking can be life saving.
  • Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death and illness in the UK. Smoking causes one in eight of these deaths, and one in five premature deaths before the age of 75.
  • The majority of people who suffer a heart attack before the age of 50 are smokers.
  • Smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack as people who have never smoked.
  • It can increase the risk of developing several different types of cancer and is the main cause of some lung diseases.
How does smoking damage your heart?

There are many ways in which smoking damages the heart. 

Smoking severely damages the lining of your arteries, leading to a build up of fatty material and a reduced space for blood to pass through your arteries.

The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry to your heart and body while the nicotine in cigarettes stimulates your body to produce adrenaline, which makes your heart beat faster and raises blood pressure, so your heart has to work harder.

Smoking also makes your blood more likely to clot.

All of these things increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease, or having a heart attack or stroke.

How can I give up?

Quitting smoking has huge health benefits and it’s never too late to give up. Most smokers want to stop smoking. Some people find it hard to give up, but about 11 million people in the UK have successfully stopped smoking.

Being determined is essential, but there are also things you can do to increase your chances of stopping.

Your GP or practice nurse can give you advice on quitting and information on joining a stop-smoking clinic or stop-smoking group, using nicotine-replacement products and taking medication to help you stop smoking.

For advice on how to quit smoking, visit the NHS ‘Smokefree’ website here.

Practical tips to help you stop smoking

For those who have suffered heart attack, giving up smoking can come easily as the health benefits are clear.

But for others, giving up can be a huge challenge. It is advisable to contact your GP to discuss the best way forward for you as an individual.

Apart from the health benefits to giving up, there are also financial advantages. For someone on 20 cigarettes a day, giving up could save more than £90 a month.

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