Heart disease is the number one killer in the world. It is estimated that each year more than 17 million people die from heart diseases. Taking care of the heart health is more than just a means of preventing heart diseases but also to ensure a person is having a healthy life in general. Heart is indeed a vital organ. Diseases of the heart can greatly lead to many diseases and even in some instances, leading cause of death. You may have heard that smoking is bad for health and especially for the heart but is it really bad?
Before we learn about the link between smoking and heart disease, it is best to understand the content of smoking. There are more than 7000 chemicals that can be found in the tobacco smoke when it is lit up. In one cigarette, there are approximately 600 ingredients. It is known that at least 250 chemicals from smoking are harmful for humans. Among the known chemicals, at least 69 have been known to be responsible for cancer. It is estimated that at least 20 percent of the world’s population smokes cigarettes.
Smoking is the cause for premature deaths. It is estimated that 39% of these deaths are from heart diseases. This shows that the number of deaths due to heart diseases caused by smoking is relatively high and in fact similar to death from cancer which is 36%. Smoking harms nearly every part of the body which in time leads to a person becoming unhealthy. Now that you have seen that smoking is linked with not only heart disease but many other diseases, we will now be focusing on the link between smoking and heart diseases.
One of the significant links between smoke and heart disease is that smoking leads to coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease is a disease caused by atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is characterised by plaque build-up in the arteries causing the arteries to become stiff and thick. This leads to less oxygen and nutrients to be supplied for cells in the body. Smoking increases the formation of plaques in blood vessels. The increasing plaques will then lead to coronary heart diseases as the latter.
Beside coronary heart disease, smoking can lead to heart attack. Heart attack occurs when the blood flow to the heart is blocked. It can be a complication of coronary heart disease. Smoking leads to changes in the blood viscosity which thicken the blood and lead to formation of blood clots in the blood vessels. This led to changes of the blood vessels and its function. Smoking also causes the heart to work harder in order to pump blood due to the damages of the blood vessels unable to work properly. This will lead to heart failure when the heart muscle is unable to cope with such bad changes in the long run.
Smoking, without a doubt, does have a strong link with heart disease. Smoking itself is a risk for heart diseases. Whenever a person has other risks for heart diseases such as bad levels of blood cholesterol, uncontrolled blood pressure and obesity, this further adds up the risk for a person to develop heart disease.
The link between smoking and heart diseases is not the only concern that should be worried by smokers. There are many other medical conditions apart from risk of developing cancer as mentioned earlier. This includes peripheral vascular disease affecting limbs, lung issues such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and brain damage such as stroke.
One may be thinking only smoking can increase risk for many health issues but truthfully second-hand smokers are also at risk for these medical problems. Second-hand smokers are those who breathe in the smoke from someone who smokes cigarettes or any tobacco products. The effect of smoking can also affect second-hand smokers although these people did not directly smoke tobacco products.
In essence, there is a strong link between smoking and heart diseases. Study shows even those who smoke fewer than 5 cigarettes a day may already show signs of early heart diseases. People who smoke more than 25 cigarettes a day are 5 times more likely to die from heart diseases. The longer a person smokes, the greater chances of experiencing its harmful effect. Although there is no way of telling which smokers will develop heart diseases, the best thing to be done is to stop smoking. By quitting smoking, the risk for heart diseases can be reduced significantly but bear in mind that damages that have been done may not be easily fix. Within five years of quitting, smokers can lower the risk for heart diseases to about a person who has never smoked.
It is understandable that quitting smoking can be difficult but getting professional help is the first step on achieving this. They can provide ways on how to curb the addicting urge and provide support both mentally and physically. Apart from getting help on smoking cessation, people should also understand the danger of becoming second-hand smokers and avoid being around a smoker. Do discuss with healthcare providers on what can be done to help stop smoking and avoid quitting cold turkey as this can lead to worsening of smoking behaviour.
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