Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing heart diseases.

For people who think that smoking only one or two cigarettes a day carries little cardiovascular risk, a new study maintains the only way to reduce risk is to quit.

Smoking just one cigarette daily is associated with a “much greater than expected” increase in risk for coronary heart disease, researchers conclude in the latest study by British medical journal.

Cardiovascular disease, not cancer, is the greatest mortality risk for smoking, causing about 48% of smoking-related premature deaths.

Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing heart diseases. The growth of heart diseases is dependent on many interlinked factors such as age, body mass index, blood pressure, diabetes, alcohol consumption and smoking too.

Smoking is a widely recognised risk factor for premature morbidity and mortality. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Smoking causes the heart to beat faster and for blood pressure to go up, but all the contaminants in the cigarette smoke damage the blood vessels. That blood vessel damage is what may potentially lead to heart failure.

So, as a result of that, any risk factor that can predispose you to developing blood vessel disease will automatically enhance your risk of heart failure over time.

Heart failure, which is a potentially life-threatening condition where the heart cannot pump enough blood around the body is a global health problem. An International Congestive Heart Failure (INTER-CHF) study, conducted across six geographies, has revealed that cardiac deaths accounted for 46% of mortality at one year in patients with heart failure in India.

Heart failure is an important global health problem, affecting about 26 million people worldwide and about 10 million people in India.

Dr. Ambuj Roy, professor of cardiology at AIIMS said, “There’s been a big shift from people smoking 20 to 25 cigarettes a day to only smoking a few cigarettes a day with the assumption that’s good enough for them. Their view is that smoking only a couple of cigarettes a day can’t be harmful and that’s probably not far off the truth for risk for cancer. For many smokers, that is probably the first thing that comes to mind, but the fact is even light smoking can create a substantial risk for heart diseases.”

In a latest study by BMJ, the researchers analysed 141 prospective studies examining the association between smoking and CHD in millions of generally healthy people.

Overall, compared with never-smoking, smoking one cigarette daily conferred significantly increased risks for the heart health.

Smoking is a widely recognised risk factor for premature morbidity and mortality. Deaths attributable to smoking increased by 4.7% in 2015 compared with 2005 and smoking is rated as a bigger burden on health.

Dr. Ambuj Roy added, “Quitting smoking is as effective as modern pharmaceutical therapies, and just as fast in manifesting its benefits. It is never too late to quit smoking, even for patients with heart failure and other serious cardiovascular disease. Cardiologists need to incorporate aggressive efforts to promote smoking cessation into practice.”

While smokers can lower their risk of heart failure by quitting, people can also make damage to the heart less likely by getting regular exercise and maintaining healthy weight, as well as keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check.


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