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Effects of Smoking on the Heart and Tobacco Facts

Heart Health > > Effects of Smoking on the Heart

Possibly one of the best ways to help insure heart health is to stop smoking and to limit secondhand smoke intake. Smokers are two to three times more likely to develop heart disease than non-smokers, and there are many negative effects of smoking on the heart and other organs essential to your well-being. Statistics regarding smoking’s negative effects on heart health are irrefutable and staggering.

One in four smoking-related deaths come about from heart disease. Coronary heart disease is a condition that is caused by diminished blood flow through the coronary arteries to the heart. Cigarette smoking is one of the most important non-hereditary risks that lead to coronary heart disease. Smokers are two to three times more likely to die of a heart attack than non-smokers, and if high cholesterol and high blood pressure are also factors, this risk of heart attack can increase to eight times more likely. Light smokers are still at risk for heart damage, as studies show that smoking one to four cigarettes per day still have negative effects on heart health.

Cigarette smoke causes several negative responses in the heart. It causes the heart rate to rise, immediately raises blood pressure, and cause the blood vessels to contract. This makes the heart work harder to deliver oxygen to the body. Carbon monoxide also reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Smoking also contributes to development of arterial disease by increasing blood cholesterol levels. It increases chances for blood clotting by increasing formation of platelets, making the blood more sticky. It also reduces the amount of oxygen available to

Smokers are also more likely to have strokes than non-smokers. Eleven percent of all stroke deaths are related to smoking, and heavy smokers have two to four times greater risk of suffering a stroke.

Secondhand smoke can also contribute to heart disease. Thirty minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke can significantly impact coronary blood flow, and can also increase risk of stroke.

Studies show that quitting smoking can significantly improve heart health. Blood clots become less likely, and the heart can immediately pump more blood with less effort. Within five years of quitting, the risk of heart disease is almost reduced to that of a non-smoker. Thus, it is never to late to give up smoking, as there are immediate benefits to healthy heart functioning by doing so. Possibly the single most effective way to reduce risk to one’s heart is to stop smoking immediately, as the benefits are proven and irrefutable.

Tobacco facts

What is the tobacco problem in Maine?

Tobacco use is the single greatest preventable cause of death and disease in Maine, accounting annually for over 2,100 deaths (one out of every six) and about 9300 hospitalizations. Smoking costs our state $554 million annually in direct health care costs alone. In Maine, each year smoking causes:

83% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

14% of deaths from heart disease

80% of lung cancer deaths

29% of all cancer deaths 

Cigarette smoking is a major cause of cancers of the lung, larynx, oral cavity, and esophagus, and also contributes to cancers of the bladder, pancreas and kidney.
How many Maine people smoke?

Just over 1 out of every 5 Maine adults smoke -- 21%. Kentucky has the highest rate of smoking -- 27.5% -- and Utah the lowest, 10.5%. In the year 2000, 28 states had a lower smoking rate than Maine's. In 2004, that number was reduced to 21 states, so we are definitely making progress. Unfortunately, among Maine's young adults (ages 18-24) about one-third are smokers. The smoking rate for young adults remains among the highest in the nation.

What are some facts about Maine kids and tobacco?

Maine's smoking rate for high school students has decreased from 39% to 16.2% since 1997. The rate for frequent smokers has decreased from 22% to 8%. 
Nevertheless, over 10,600 high school students still smoke, and nearly half of them are regular smokers. At the current rate of smoking, about 2,400 youth become new daily smokers each year, and 29,200 Maine kids now alive will eventually die prematurely from this deadly addiction. Nearly half of the high school students who smoke have already tried to quit and are unable to.

Why can’t people just quit? 

Tobacco is a serious addiction, greater than heroin, according to Surgeon General reports and independent research. According to recent surveys, 45% of Maine high school students and 57% of adults tried unsuccessfully to quit.

Many people quit smoking with additional help from printed materials, counseling, medication, and products like the nicotine patch, gum or spray. Without treatment, only 5-10% of quitters are successful, with treatment, success can reach up to 20-40%!

Why should Mainers care whether other people smoke?

Breathing smoke from others, known as secondhand smoke or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is harmful to the nonsmoker and is a serious public health threat. ETS is considered a Class A cancer-causing chemical, the same as asbestos! Tobacco smoke spreads quickly even if a person doesn’t sit next to it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a smoke-filled room can have up to 6 times the air pollution of a busy highway.

Lung disease is the number three killer in Maine and the rest of the United States, responsible for one in seven deaths. Lung disease and other breathing problems are the number one killer of babies younger than one year old. Today, more than 100,000 Maine citizens are living with chronic lung disease such as asthma, emphysema, A1AD Related Emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.

Heart Health > > Effects of Smoking on the Heart