One of the best ways to reduce your risk of coronary heart disease is to avoid tobacco smoke. Don’t ever start smoking. If you already smoke, quit. No matter how much or how long you’ve smoked, quitting will benefit you.
Quitting smoking will benefit your heart and blood vessels. For example:
- Among persons diagnosed with coronary heart disease, quitting smoking greatly reduces the risk of recurrent heart attack and cardiovascular death. In many studies, this reduction in risk has been 50 percent or more.
- Heart disease risk associated with smoking begins to decrease soon after you quit, and for many people it continues to decrease over time.
- Your risk of atherosclerosis (the buildup of fatty substances in the arteries) and blood clots related to smoking declines over time after you quit smoking.
Smokers have a higher risk of developing many chronic disorders, including atherosclerosis, which can lead to coronary heart disease and stroke. Smoking can:
- Raise triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood)
- Lower “good” cholesterol (HDL)
- Make blood sticky and more likely to clot, which can block blood flow to the heart and brain
- Damage cells that line the blood vessels
- Increase the buildup of plaque (fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances) in blood vessels
- Cause thickening and narrowing of blood vessels
Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in the United States. Take action now to reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke. A good place to start is with the ABCs of heart health:
- Aspirin: Aspirin may help reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. But do not take aspirin if you think you are having a stroke. It can make some types of stroke worse. Before taking aspirin, talk to your doctor about whether aspirin is right for you.
- Blood pressure: Control your blood pressure.
- Cholesterol: Manage your cholesterol.
- Smoking: Quit smoking, or don’t start.
Quitting smoking takes a lot of work and resolve. Talk to your doctor about quitting and get the support you need.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services