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Tobacco


Tobacco and cardiovascular disease
The evidence that tobacco use will kill you is incontrovertible.  
Since the 1940s it is known that smoking is linked to heart disease and cancer.  Since then, tobacco has appeared on an increasing roll call of risk factors for a host of diseases that cause death and illness.

And yet many people still do not link smoking to heart disease.  Only 4% of Chinese know that smoking causes heart disease. In the USA, the majority of smokers do not believe they have a greater risk of heart disease than non smokers.

If you smoke and started smoking while still a child, your risk of cardiovascular disease is much higher than someone who started as an adult.

Being subjected to passive smoke will also increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Chewing tobacco or using snuff is equally dangerous.

How tobacco causes damage
Smoking promotes cardiovascular disease through a number of mechanisms. It damages the endothelium (the lining of the blood vessels), increases fatty deposits in the arteries, increases clotting, raises low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, reduces high-density lipoprotein and promotes coronary artery spasm.

Nicotine, the addictive component of tobacco, accelerates the heart rate and raises blood pressure.

How genes compound your risk
Some smokers possess a gene that increases their risk of developing coronary heart disease by up to four times. About a quarter of us have this gene.

Gender
Women who smoke are at a higher risk of heart attack than men who smoke. If you are a woman and smoke three to five cigarettes a day, you double your risk of heart attack.  A man would have to smoke six to nine cigarettes a day to double his risk.

Reducing the risk
Although smoking causes a great deal of damage, quitting smoking effectively reduces cardiovascular risk to close to that of a person who has never smoked over a period of time.

Smoking is a major cause of heart disease. It is estimated that smoking increases the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease and impotence by 100%. Smoking increases the risk of death from undiagnosed coronary heart disease by 300%.

The good news is that a smoker who quits can reduce his/her risk of cardiovascular disease to almost that of someone who has never smoked.