Tobacco breaks hearts every day

By June Shannon Policy News   |   31st May 2018

World No Tobacco Day 2018 links tobacco to heart disease and stroke

Smokers under 40 are five times more likely to have a heart attack than non-smokers, the Medical Director of the Irish Heart Foundation has said.

Speaking at a special conference organised by the HSE to mark World No Tobacco Day today (Thursday 31 May) in Farmleigh House in Dublin, Dr Angie Brown, Consultant Cardiologist warned that tobacco was rarely thought of as one of the most avoidable causes of heart disease and stroke.

The focus of World No Tobacco Day 2018 is “Tobacco and heart disease.” The campaign aims to increase awareness of the link between tobacco and heart and other cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including stroke, which combined are the world’s leading causes of death.

According to Dr Brown, “smokers under 40 are five times more likely to have a heart attack while smoking after stroke has 3x higher risk of death. The Irish Heart Foundation wants to increase awareness of the link between tobacco and heart and other cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, which combined are Ireland’s leading causes of death.

“Tobacco in every form is very harmful to health and exposure to second hand smoke is also dangerous. Tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide associated with tobacco use narrows arteries and reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood leading to various types of cardiovascular disease. Stopping smoking is the single most important step you can take to live longer and it greatly reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke.”

"Smokers under 40 are five times more likely to have a heart attack"

Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director , Irish Heart Foundation

Tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure together contribute to approximately 17 per cent of all cardiovascular deaths globally and about 3 million deaths a year.

Nicotine causes the blood vessels to narrow, increases the heart rate and raises blood pressure. Smoking contributes to the long-term clogging or narrowing of the arteries and increases the risk of blood clots. These clots can suddenly block an artery completely causing a heart attack or stroke. Carbon monoxide contained in cigarette smoke is a poisonous gas that reduces the amount of oxygen the blood can carry. This means that the heart must work harder to get enough oxygen around the body which can contribute to heart attack and angina (chest pain). Cigarette smoking also contributes to blocked blood vessels, especially in the legs and feet, leading to poor circulation and an increased risk of developing circulatory disease.

Smoking also increases LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduces HDL (good) cholesterol and high levels of LDL cholesterol are a risk for heart disease and stroke. Smoking is even more harmful for women as they metabolise nicotine faster than men. Women who smoke are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack as women who have never smoked. Smoking also increases the risk of heart attack and stroke in women using the oral contraceptive pill and smoking while pregnant increases the chance of complications.

Stopping smoking is the single most important step you can take to live longer and it greatly reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke.”

Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director, Irish Heart Foundation

Despite efforts to curb smoking through the smoking ban and plain packaging legislation and the well-known fact that tobacco kills half of its users, in Ireland today 22 per cent of adults still smoke and 16 per cent of teenagers admit to smoking regularly.

Dr Brown strongly advised the conference to continue collective action towards a smoke free Ireland by 2025 “Though prevalence rates have fallen there are still too many people smoking and there is no room for complacency with heart disease and stroke being Ireland’s biggest killer. Tobacco use is hugely detrimental to both our health and our environment with pollution, deforestation and climate change all having an impact. We must take strong collective action to help individuals through smoking cessation programmes and to reinforce a smoke free environment through strategic environmental measures.”

There is information and support available to help you quit smoking or you can call the Irish Heart Foundation helpline on 1800 25 25 50

 

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blood pressure heart attack heart disease hypertension smoking stroke

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