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Smoking and your cardiovascular health

Last Modified: November 15, 2021

Heart Health

smoking and cardiovascular disease

This post was written by Peter Chaille, MD, PPG – Cardiology, in honor of the Great American Smokeout.

Smoking is bad for you. This is no secret. Studies emerged in the 1950s linking smoking with lung disease, including lung cancer. At that time, over one-half of American men smoked. As more research became available about the harmful effects of smoking, this information spread to the public. Thankfully, people were listening. Today, that number has dropped to roughly 15%. Although, as much as people are aware of smoking’s harmful effects on the lungs, it seems they are generally less aware of its impact on the rest of the body.

Knowledge is power

Smoking negatively affects nearly every organ of the body. In addition to lung cancer, smoking can cause over 10 different types of cancer. In 1964, the Surgeon General published a report highlighting these risks, and for over one-half century, we’ve heard warnings about the various effects of smoking on the body. A tremendous effort has gone directly towards educating the public. However, despite these efforts, smoking remains the number one cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the United States. As a cardiologist, I see this first-hand.

The toll smoking takes on cardiovascular health

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and nearly one-third of adults are currently living with some form of it. Unfortunately, we expect this number to increase over the next decade, and, sadly, smoking is still a top contributor. In many cases, smoking is the cause of cardiovascular disease, including coronary artery disease, strokes, congestive heart failure, peripheral arterial disease, aneurysms and amputations. Over one-third of all heart attacks are caused by smoking, and just one cigarette per day increases a person’s risk of a heart attack or stroke by up to 50%.

A noticeable shift

While the overall number of smokers has steadily dropped, thanks mainly to public education and awareness, the pandemic has created a visible shift. Last year, the number of tobacco sales increased for the first time in decades. Regrettably, in my own experience, smokers account for many of the patients I treat who suffer from heart attacks, circulation problems and amputations.

Seeking assistance

Fortunately, there is hope. Believe it or not, most people who smoke want to quit, but only a fraction of those individuals seek assistance. Thankfully, there’s help for those looking to stop. As a physician trying to cure cardiovascular disease, helping a person quit smoking is perhaps one of the most important treatments we can offer. We highly recommend anyone interested in stopping to speak with their primary care provider. They can provide you with more information or assistance. The cessation resources listed below can also provide excellent guidance to help current smokers achieve their goal of quitting. Remember, it’s never too late to stop smoking or using tobacco products. Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but with help and a plan, you can start your journey toward a healthier, smoke-free life.


Helpful resources

Quit Now Indiana

Parkview Smoking Cessation classes

CDC: Smoking & Tobacco Use

American Cancer Society

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