Smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by 2 to 4 times, which includes heart attack and stroke. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of heart disease by itself, when it acts with other factors, it increases risk a great deal more.
How smoking affects your heart:
Smoking damages the lining of your arteries, leading to a build up of fatty material which narrows the artery. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.
The nicotine in cigarettes stimulates your body to produce adrenaline, which makes your heart beat faster and raises your blood pressure, making your heart work harder.
In addition, smoking thickens the blood making it more likely to clot, which also increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. This means your heart has to pump harder to supply the body with the oxygen it needs.
There are around 600 ingredients in a cigarette. When burned, cigarettes create more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, and many more are toxic.
Source: Health Service Executive
Active smokers are not the only ones at risk due to smoking. Second-hand smoke is when you breathe in the smoke in the air from someone else’s cigarette and the smoke they breathe out.
Secondhand smoke is a serious issue for non-smokers, especially children. Non-smokers who have other risk factors such as high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol have an even greater risk of developing heart diseases when they are exposed to secondhand smoke.
One year after quitting, your risk of a heart attack or stroke is reduced by half. In 5 to 15 years, your risk of stroke and coronary heart disease returns to that of someone who has never smoked.
Tips for Quitting:
Set a date and create a plan: choose the method or combination you think will work best for you e.g. Nicotine patch, therapy etc.
Track your progress: Every day, mark on your calendar the number of days since you've smoked.
Examine causes of stress (certain people or situations can set off your urge to smoke).
Ask your family and friends for support and let them know exactly how they can support you.
Don't give up. Quitting is difficult. Take it one day at a time and try to stay positive.