Addiction recovery can add years to your life.
Everyone is aware that cigarettes have the potential to kill. You’ve undoubtedly known a smoker who has died or is dying of lung cancer by the time you reach middle life. But lung cancer and emphysema aren’t the only dangers of smoking; heart disease is also a significant concern.
According to the American Heart Association, cigarettes are responsible for up to a third of all heart disease fatalities in the United States each year. Smoking doubles or quadruples your risk of cardiovascular disease. Starting with as few as four cigarettes per day, your risk increases as you increase the number of cigarettes you smoke. Secondhand smoke (smoke from other people’s cigarettes) increases your risk of heart and cardiovascular disease over time.
If you’ve ever smoked a cigarette, merely reading these figures may cause your chest to tighten. But don’t be discouraged: there is a way off the path to a heart attack. If you quit smoking for good, you can reduce your risk of heart disease considerably in a short period of time. If you already have cardiac problems, stopping the habit could help you get better.
What are the effects of smoking on the heart?
Smoking enables quick and efficient delivery of nicotine into the bloodstream. Cigarettes are popular for a reason: the nicotine in cigarette smoke causes an adrenaline rush, which gives you a boost of energy. However, your heart may be suffering when you’re having a good time. Adrenalin increases your heart rate and constricts your arteries. It’s possible that your blood pressure will rise somewhat, placing additional strain on your heart. Furthermore, carbon monoxide absorbed by smoking depletes the body’s oxygen supply because red cells are faster to prey on and bind to the toxic gas than they are to assimilate oxygen.
To make matters worse, the chemicals in cigarette smoke hasten the onset of atherosclerosis, a disease of the big and middle arteries. Damage to the blood arteries causes them to be less able to “relax” in this disease. Smoking contributes to this by hardening arterial walls, which can cause plaque to break and cause a clot to develop, clogging an artery. Smoking also accelerates the oxidation, or breakdown, of some fats or lipids (LDL or “bad” cholesterol in particular). Blood clotting and the level of inflammatory chemicals in the blood are both increased as a result of this process.
All of these events have the potential to harm or poison the blood vessel lining. Inflamed arteries make it easier for cholesterol and other lipids to “stick” to the vessels, and damage to the inner lining of the arteries makes this easier. As a result, fatty deposits known as plaque can build up in the arteries, hardening them. Cigarettes exacerbate the problem by lowering HDL, or “good” cholesterol, which aids in the removal of artery-clogging LDL (“bad”) cholesterol from the bloodstream.
In reality, many smokers are on the fast track to a heart attack. When plaque clogs the arteries feeding the heart, a condition known as coronary heart disease, the organ can become oxygen-depleted. This can result in excruciating chest pain (angina). A section of the heart will shut down if an artery becomes entirely obstructed. Myocardial infarction is what doctors call it, although it’s more commonly known as a heart attack.
Is secondhand smoke harmful to your health?
Yes. Although sitting in a smoke-filled room isn’t as dangerous as smoking, there is significant evidence that secondhand smoke can harm your heart and circulatory system. Secondhand smoking increases the risk of heart disease by 25 to 30 percent for nonsmokers and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent, according to research by the US Surgeon General. According to the findings, there is no safe level of exposure.
Isn’t it true that smoking is on the decline?
Cigarette consumption has decreased in states like California, which have legislation prohibiting smoking in workplaces and restaurants. However, smoking is still the greatest cause of preventable mortality in the United States, with more than 15% of adult Americans smoking. The issue for young people is that many equate smoking with being mature, emancipated, and fashionable; teenage females, in particular, may smoke in order to maintain their slim figure. According to studies, although cigarette smoking has decreased marginally among high school students since 2011, more are now using e-cigarettes and hookahs.
Smoking-control programs, on the other hand, provide hope. According to a study by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco, California had 33,000 fewer heart disease fatalities than projected over an eight-year period, which they linked to a decrease in cigarette smoking as a result of the state’s tough tobacco control program. Furthermore, those Californians who continue to smoke are doing so less frequently.
Is it too late to make a change?
It’s a perfect moment to quit smoking, no matter how long you’ve smoked or how much you’ve smoked. Your heart will relax shortly after you stop smoking, and your blood will become thinner and less likely to clot. The inner lining of your arteries will start to mend, significantly decreasing plaque accumulation.
This is fantastic news for your heart. Unlike the lungs, which continue to have an increased risk of lung cancer even after you stop smoking for ten years, your heart is more forgiving. Within two or three years of quitting smoking, your risk of heart attack will be comparable to that of someone who has never smoked. Over a three-year period, quitting smoking reduces the risk of heart attack by roughly 65 percent, with half of the benefits occurring in the first 3-6 months. If you’ve already had a heart attack, quitting cigarettes will reduce your chances of having another one by half.
Switching to low-nicotine brands, on the other hand, did not appear to lower the risk of a heart attack.
What is the best way for me to stop smoking?
It’s not simple to break free from nicotine’s grasp. Make a date in your calendar for quitting for good. Inform your relatives and friends that you will require their assistance. When it’s time to quit, a nicotine patch or gum can help you overcome your cravings. (First, consult your doctor to ensure that the patch is appropriate for you.) To help you quit smoking, your doctor may prescribe the prescription medications bupropion (Zyban) or varenicline (Chantix). However, the Food and Drug Administration warns that these medications can induce mood swings, sadness, and even suicidal thoughts in some people, so talk to your doctor about it first, and if you do decide to take them, report any changes in your mood or behavior to your doctor right away.