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Heart Health Month

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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
    • Stroke
    • Aneurysms
    • 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
    • Stroke

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
      • Stroke
      • 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
    • Stroke
    • 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


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

I Want to Help Someone Quit

Healthcare professionals

  • Ask, Advise, Refer to Quit Don’t Switch ( 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 ( 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

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