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Cigarette smoking is an independent risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. 1 The more cigarettes you smoke per day and the longer you smoke, the higher the risk. 1,2 Also, if you have other risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol, smoking will amplify those risks. 1

How smoking adversely affects heart health

  • Increases the risk of blood clots 2,3
  • Damages the lining of the arteries 3
  • Increases heart rate and blood pressure 1,3
  • Constricts (narrows) blood vessels 1
  • Decreases oxygen content of the blood, so heart has to pump harder to supply the body with oxygen 3
  • Causes abnormal lipid levels and build-up of fatty plaques in the blood vessels 1
graph: how smoking multiplies risk of disease

Smoking myth busters

I only smoke a few cigarettes a day so I’m not at risk.

Even people who smoke < 5 cigarettes a day may show signs of early CVD 1,2

I’ve smoked for years so stopping now won’t do me any good

Even people who have already had a heart attack can cut their risk of having another if they quit smoking 2

e-cigarettes take all the harm out of smoking

e-cigarette puffing releases various potentially harmful substances that can increase the risk of high blood pressure and an abnormal heart beat – this can increase the risk of a heart attack 4

My smoking doesn’t harm anyone but myself

Second hand smoke increases the risk of heart attacks by up to 30 % 1

Smoking relieves my stress so I can’t stop

Research studies show that smoking actually increases the stress level of the body. The only stress that is relieved from smoking is avoiding the withdrawal symptoms from quitting 5,6

References: 1. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General. Chapter 6: Cardiovascular Diseases. [Online] 2010 [cited 2018 Jan 24]. Available from: URL: 2. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention: Office on Smoking and Health. Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease. [Online] [cited 2018 Jan 24]. Available from: URL: 3. British Heart Foundation. Smoking. [Online] [cited 2018 Jan 24]. Available from: URL: 4. Lippi G, Favaloro EJ, Meschi T, Mattiuzzi C, Borghi L Cervellin G. E-Cigarettes and Cardiovascular Risk: Beyond Science and Mysticism. Semin Thromb Hemost 2014;40:60-65. 5. American Thoracic Society. Smoking and Stress Management. [Online] [cited 2018 Jan 24]. Available from: URL: 6. Parrott AC. Does Cigarette Smoking Cause Stress? Am Psychologist

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