The Role of Smoking in Cardiovascular Disease
Smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of angina, heart attack, stroke and other blood vessel diseases. A smoker’s risk of developing heart disease is directly proportional to the number of cigarettes he or she smokes daily – one study showed that every additional cigarette increases the risk of a non-fatal heart attack by 5.6%. People who have other risk factors for heart disease are at particularly high risk if they smoke.
Smoking affects the cardiovascular system in a number of ways:
It decreases the blood level of HDL (“good”) cholesterol and increases the level of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, which causes certain kinds of damage to the heart and blood vessels.
It increases the amount of carbon monoxide in the blood, which may increase the risk of injury to the lining of the arteries.
It causes arteries already narrowed by atherosclerosis to constrict, further decreasing the amount of blood reaching the body’s cells.
It increases the blood’s tendency to clot (by making platelets stickier) and thus increases the risk of blockage in arteries all over the body – which can result in heart attack, stroke or other conditions.
Fortunately, studies have shown that becoming smoke-free reduces the risk of a smoking-related heart attack by one half in the first year alone. In fact, the benefits of becoming smoke-free begin immediately and increase with time, even in people who have already had a heart attack.
For more information on the risks associated with smoking, the benefits of becoming smoke-free, and tips to help you get there, visit “www.itscanadastime.ca”