Smoking and heart attack

Smoking and heart attack

Smoking and heart attack is an important association and smokers have up to 400% greater chance of getting heart disease. The negative impact of smoking on health is so great that it is considered as the most significant preventable cause of disease and death in some countries.

Recipe for disaster – how smoking forms a substantial part of the equation for heart disease

Cigarette smoke contains nearly 4800 chemicals including nicotine. Nicotine adversely affects the heart and causes:

  1. Build up of fatty substances in the blood vessels, leading to their narrowing (atherosclerosis)
  2. Decreased amount of oxygen available to the heart and other organs
  3. Increased blood pressure
  4. Increased tendency for blood clotting
  5. Increased cholesterol level

All these increase the risk of heart disease. Decreased amount of oxygen makes it more difficult for the heart to function. Also with increased blood pressure, the heart has to do more work to pump the same amount of blood. In such a state, if a blood vessel supplying the heart gets blocked (due to vessel narrowing and increased tendency to clot), it leads to death of that area of the heart, resulting in a heart attack.

The deadly cocktail

Smoking isn’t the only risk factor for heart disease. Obesity, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, high blood pressure are also major risk factors. When smoking is coupled with the other risk factors, they form a deadly cocktail that is truly devastating for the heart.

What about passive smoking?

Cigarette smoking not only affects smokers, but also those who are frequently near smokers. Passive smoking (also known as second hand smoking) has also been associated with cardiovascular disease and death. The victims are mainly children of parents who smoke.

(Adapted from