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February is Heart Health Month. Smoking can negatively impact your heart health. So we’re going to talk a little bit about it here.
Did you know that when you breathe, your lungs take in oxygen and then deliver oxygen to your heart? Your heart will then pump oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body. When you breathe in smoke, the blood becomes contaminated with the smoke’s chemicals. (Fun or not so fun fact: there’s over 7,000 chemicals in cigarettes. Johns Hopkins found about 2,000 in e-cigarettes.)1
Source: CDC’s from a Former Smoker, Roosevelt (Roosevelt S.’s Story | Real Stories | Tips From Former Smokers | CDC)
Heart Health Risks Associated with Smoking1
- About 800,000 deaths a year in the US are caused by cardiovascular disease. Close to 20% are due to smoking.
- Smoking cigarettes can permanently damage your heart and blood vessels. This can lead to cardiovascular diseases, like
- Coronary heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart Attack
- Peripheral artery disease
- Smoking cigarettes can change your blood chemistry (another way to lead to cardiovascular disease).
- Changes in blood chemistry causes plaque to build up in arteries. The buildup can cause a disease known as atherosclerosis.
- Atherosclerosis and thickened blood can cause blood clots. These clots can lead to heart attack, stroke, and death.
- Secondhand smoke (SHS) increases the risk of:
- Coronary heart disease (about 30,000 deaths in the US are caused by SHS)
- Heart attack
E-Cigarettes and Heart Health5,6,7
- Growing evidence has linked e-cigarette use to negative cardiovascular effects, such as
- Increases in heart rate, blood vessel constriction, and blood pressure immediately after vaping
- People who vape consistently performed worse on treadmill exercise measurements that predict heart disease risk compared to those who don’t use nicotine
- Significantly impairing blood vessel function, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Dual use of e-cigarettes and cigarettes may lead to a greater risk
- Increases the risk of
- Heart attacks
- Coronary artery disease
- Circulatory problems, like blood clots
Source: CDC’s Tips from a Former Smoker, Tonya (Tonya M.’s Story | Real Stories | Tips From Former Smokers | CDC)
Marijuana and Heart Health4,5,6
- Marijuana smoke delivers many of the same substances found in tobacco smoke. These are substances are harmful to lungs and the cardiovascular system
- Marijuana can make the heart beat faster
- It can increase blood pressure immediately after use
- It could increase the risk of
- Heart disease
- Other vascular diseases
- Most studies citing this risk are based on smoking marijuana rather than other methods of use
- Harvard reported that those with heart disease are more likely to experience chest pain after smoking marijuana
- Effects of cannabinoids include:
- Raising resting heart rate
- Dilating blood vessels
- Making the heart pump harder
- Stanford reported a correlation between marijuana use and heart attacks
- Study showed that THC causes inflammation in the endothelial cells (interior of blood vessels) and atherosclerosis in mice
- More research is needed to understand the full impact of marijuana on heart health
- Effects of cannabinoids include:
Heart Health Benefits of Quitting4
- Reduces risk of disease and death from heart disease
- Coronary heart disease risk reduces sharply 1-2 years of quitting and then continues to decline, but more slowly, over the longer term
- Reduces risk for stroke to similar rates of those who never smoked
- Reduces markers of inflammation and hypercoagulability
- Rapid improvement of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)
- Reduces the risk of abnormal risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm
If you already have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, you can see these benefits:
- Reduction in the risk of premature death
- Reduction in the risk of death from heart disease
- Reduction in the risk of having a heart attack
I Want to Quit
- Call the Alaska State Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW. You can also text READY to 200-400.
- Teens can visit Live Vape Free or Not For Me. Prefer texting? Text VAPEFREE to 873373.
- Veterans can call the VA’s Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-VET
- American Lung Association: resources for quitting smoking for adults and teens. Also provides information for those who want to support someone in their quit journey.
- For more information and tips, check out smokefree.gov.
I Want to Help Someone Quit
- Ask, Advise, Refer to Quit Don’t Switch (lung.training): free, one-hour, on-demand course that touches on tools and strategies for conducting an effective brief tobacco intervention with those who use tobacco. This course is accredited for 1 hour of Continuing Medical Education (CME) by Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services (RMCHCS) and 1 Continuing Education Unit (CEU) by the American Association of Respiratory Care.
- ACT to Address Youth Cessation (lung.training): free, one-hour, on-demand course that touches on ways to provide a brief intervention for teens who use tobacco. School personnel and community members in youth/adolescent supportive roles are welcome to take this as well.
Anyone Who Wants to Help
- Help Someone Quit Smoking | American Lung Association: check out tips to support someone in their quit journey.
- TalkAboutVaping.Org: parents/caregivers/any adult who are interested in talking to kids about vaping.