Smoking is one of the major causes of cardiovascular disease. People who smoke are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack as people who have never smoked. If you are a smoker, stopping smoking is the single most important step you can take to reduce the risk of having a heart attack and to live longer. It can also 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?
Smoking damages the lining of the arteries, which can lead to the build-up of atheroma (fatty material) in the arteries. The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry to the heart and around the body. The nicotine in cigarettes stimulates the body to produce adrenaline, which makes the heart beat faster and raises blood pressure, which makes the heart work harder. Smoking may also make the blood more likely to clot. All of these things increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease, or of having a heart attack or a stroke.
What is second-hand smoke?
Second-hand smoke, or passive smoking is where non-smokers inhale other people’s smoke. Second-hand smoke can also be harmful. Research shows that non-smokers who live with smokers have a greater risk of heart disease than those who don’t live with smokers.
What you can do?
Quitting smoking has huge health benefits and it’s never too late to give up. Most smokers want to stop smoking. Being determined is essential, but there are also things you can do to increase your chances of stopping.
Practical tips to help you stop smoking
- Make a date to give up, and stick to it! Throw away all your tobacco, lighters and ashtrays.
- Draw up a plan of action. Think about what could help you stop smoking – such as using a nicotine-replacement product– and have it ready before the date you plan to quit.
- Keep busy, to help take your mind off cigarettes. Try to change your routine, and avoid the shop where you usually buy cigarettes.
- Get support. Let your family and friends know you are quitting. Some people find that talking to friends and relatives who have stopped can be helpful.
- Treat yourself. If you can, use the money you are saving by not smoking to buy yourself something special.