According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, cigarette smoking causes about 1 in every 5 deaths in the United States each year and is also the main preventable cause of death and illness in the United States. Smoking harms almost every organ in the body, including the heart, blood vessels, lungs, eyes, mouth, reproductive organs, bones, bladder, and digestive organs. The chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your blood cells and also can damage the function of your heart and the structure and function of your blood vessels.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) occurs if plaque builds up in the coronary (heart) arteries. Over time, CHD can lead to chest pain, heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmias or even death (National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute). Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. When combined with other risk factors—such as unhealthy blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and overweight or obesity—smoking further raises the risk of heart disease.
One of the best ways to reduce your risk of heart disease is to avoid smoking tobacco. Don’t ever start smoking. If you already smoke, quit. No matter how much or how long you’ve smoked, quitting will benefit you. You should also try to avoid secondhand smoke. Try to avoid places that allow smoking.
Quitting smoking will reduce your risk of developing and dying from heart disease. Over time, quitting also will lower your risk of atherosclerosis and blood clots. Researchers from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute have studied communities that have banned smoking at work sites and in public places. The number of heart attacks in these communities dropped quite a bit. Researchers think these results are due to a decrease in active smoking and reduced exposure to secondhand smoke.
Here are a few more healthy heart tips!