Part 2 of the 7 Essentials of Heart Health: Smoking

Don't ignore this one just because you don't smoke! Read to find out how important secondhand smoke is as well. 

2. Do NOT smoke or use any form of nicotine.

·         Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in the United States. Smoking is linked to heart disease, stroke, cancer and other chronic lung diseases. It can also increase your risk for cancer of the bladder, throat and mouth, kidneys, cervix and pancreas!

·         Smoking by itself increases the risk of coronary heart disease. As stated on , smoking decreases your tolerance for physical activity and increases the tendency for blood to clot.

·         Cigar and pipes aren’t a “safer” alternative to cigarettes. In fact, any form of nicotine greatly increases your risk of all types of vascular disease: heart attack, stroke, dementia, vision loss and erectile dysfunction just to name a few.

·         It also important to avoid other people’s smoke because the link between secondhand smoke and many types of disease is well known. Each year about 34,000 adults die from heart and blood vessel disease caused by other people’s smoke. The risk of stroke for nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke is increased by an estimated 20-30 percent.

·         IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO QUIT! If you or someone you love smokes, consider these facts.

o   8 hours after quitting carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal and oxygen level in the blood increases to normal

o   48 hours after quitting nerve endings start to regrow and ability to smell and taste begins to return to normal

o   2 weeks to 3 months after quitting blood circulation and lung function improves

o   1 – 9 months after quitting coughing and shortness of breath improve and cilia start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce risk of infection

o   1 year after quitting the risk of coronary heart disease drops to half that of a smoker

o   5 – 10 years after quitting stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker

o   10 years after quitting the risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a person who is still smoking and risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decrease