Most people associate cigarette smoking with breathing problems and lung cancer, but 20 - 30% of all deaths from heart disease in the U.S. are directly related to cigarette smoking, according to WebMD.Among other things, the nicotine present in smoke causes:
- Decreased oxygen to the heart.
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate.
- Increase in blood clotting.
- Damage to cells that line coronary arteries and other blood vessels, triggering atherosclerosis and heart disease.
WebMD explains that a person's risk of heart attack greatly increases with the number of cigarettes he or she smokes. Smokers continue to increase their risk of heart attack the longer they smoke as well. People who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day have more than twice the risk of heart attack than non-smokers. Women who smoke and also take birth control pills increase several times their risk of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
Cigarette smoke also affects the people around you, who are also at risk for developing health problems, especially children. Environmental tobacco smoke (also called passive smoke or secondhand smoke) can cause chronic respiratory conditions, cancer, and heart disease. It is estimated that around 35,000 nonsmokers die from heart disease each year as a result of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.Quitting smoking can also be helpful in:
- Prolonging your life.
- Reducing your risk of disease (including heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, lung cancer, throat cancer, emphysema, ulcers, gum disease, and other conditions).
- Feeling healthier. After quitting, you won't cough as much, you'll have fewer sore throats and you will increase your stamina.
- Looking better. Quitting can help you prevent face wrinkles, get rid of stained teeth, and improve your skin.
- Improving your sense of taste and smell.
- Saving money!