World No Tobacco Day 2018 is here and the theme for this year is ‘Tobacco and heart disease’, so we asked Maurice Swanson, Chief Executive Officer of Heart Foundation WA, to contribute a special guest blog post about the deadly impact smoking has on heart health.

Many people are not aware that smoking is bad for your heart as well as your lungs. In fact, the risks are greater than you might think – just one cigarette a day can cause significant harm.

Smoking about one cigarette per day damages your heart and arteries, and results in nearly half the risk for heart disease and stroke as smoking a full pack of 20 per day.

The harm to the heart from smoking occurs as blood carries toxic chemicals from around our bodies which:

  • increases heart rate
  • raises blood pressure
  • damages arteries
  • causes blood clots to form more easily because the blood is stickier

What happens next?

The damage to your body can result in a heart attack, angina, heart failure, aneurysm or a stroke (visit the Heart Foundation website for more information on these conditions).

Fantastic benefits of quitting!

The great news is that if you quit you can markedly reduce your risk of suffering these consequences. Only 24 hours after having your last cigarette the heart will start to repair itself and your risk of heart attack will drop:

  • after 8 hours your blood oxygen level increases and returns to normal
  • in 24 hours your risk of heart attack begins to drop
  • after 1 year your risk of a heart attack or stroke is reduced by half
  • in 5 to 15 years your risk of stroke and coronary heart disease returns to that of people who have never smoked

Smoke-free environments reduce cardiovascular disease even among non-smokers. Widespread bans on smoking in public places are associated with large decreases in heart attack hospital admissions due to secondhand smoke. Being in smoke-free places also reduces the number of cigarettes smoked and encourages people to quit smoking.

Make every day World No Tobacco Day to work towards a future free of tobacco and smoking.

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