Smoking is an addiction that has gripped the country — But there is help

Smoking Also Causes Heart Disease

By Carin Mangimeli

Smoking is an addiction that has gripped the country and become an epidemic familiar to everyone. Smokers brave the elements to feed their habit – going out in the bitter cold, driving rain and beating sun to get their fix. Even patients in hospitals with IV’s in their hands and oxygen tubes in their noses still walk outside every few hours for a quick drag. The adrenalin high caused by the nicotine provides a brief respite from the realities of the dangers of smoking; but at the end of the break, those dangers come crashing down.

The dangers of cardiovascular disease have only become well-known within the last five years. As the leading cause death in women, it is a formidable disease that fells CEOs and stay-at-home moms alike. But it is also currently one of the most preventable diseases. Surprisingly, however, the leading cause of cardiovascular disease in women and men alike is smoking.

The toxins contained in cigarettes causes clogged arteries and high LDL, commonly called “bad cholesterol,” making hearts work harder and driven by the “speed” effects of the nicotine, faster to pump blood while starving the organ of much needed oxygen flow. The overworked and suffocating heart slowly starts to die, causing massive pain and discomfort to the smoker. Eventually it will just stop, causing a myocardial infarction or “heart attack.” Though some are able to survive this, many do not. According to the American Heart Association, smoking related coronary disease is responsible for 20% of all heart-related disease deaths and kills more individuals under 50 than any other disease.

Smokers are the not the only ones at risk of heart disease from cigarettes. The Surgeon General’s 2006 reports secondhand smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke (smoke in the air in your vicinity), increases nonsmokers risk of heart disease up to 30% and states there is “no risk-free” exposure to smoke. It can also increase the risk of stroke.

Before you or someone you know becomes a victim of this epidemic, contact your doctor or visit www.americanheart.org for information on quitting smoking immediately. Remember, once a smoker stops smoking, his or her risk of heart disease and death drops dramatically quickly. All it takes is that first step.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carin Mangimeli