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 Smoking, Drinking & Addiction

Smokers More Likely to Die of Heart Disease
Dr Mohammed Rehan Sayeed
The most common perception is that smokers are at a high risk to develop cancer. But in reality, coronary heart disease and stroke are the primary types of cardiovascular disease caused by smoking.

Toxins in the blood from smoking cigarettes contribute to the development of atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of arteries) and may contribute to congestive heart failure as well as strokes. Among smokers, cardiovascular disease (and not cancer) is the leading cause of death worldwide.

According to a Lancet report
  • All smoking-related cancer deaths need to be added together (including cancers such as that of the bladder, mouth, esophagus, etc.) to approach the number of smoking-related cardiac deaths (1,470,000 total cancer deaths worldwide).
  • 1,690,000 premature deaths from cardiovascular disease among smokers were recorded in the year 2000 alone, in contrast to 850,000 lung cancer deaths from smoking in the same year.
Smoking is injurious not only for the smokers, but also for the people and the environment around them. This makes it all the more imperative for smokers to realize the importance of quitting smoking.In a study published in Circulation May 23, 2005, investigators report that second-hand smoke is actually worse than we tend to imagine.

According to the report
  • The cardiovascular system of non-smokers is extremely sensitive to tobacco toxins inhaled during passive smoking.
  • Secondhand smokers only inhale about 1/100th the dose of smoke inhaled by the smokers themselves, but the effect of that second hand smoke is relatively huge.
  • The risk of coronary heart disease is 30 percent higher for secondhand smokers than it is for non-smokers who are not exposed to second hand smoke.
  • Secondhand smoke is responsible for making platelets (cells responsible for clotting) stickier, causing inflammation, reducing HDL cholesterol levels, increasing LDL cholesterol levels and increasing insulin resistance.
Smoking is the single most important cause of heart attacks in younger patients and individuals under the age of 40 who smoke tobacco products. Young smokers have a five times higher chance of having a myocardial infarction (heart attack) than non-smokers.

In the context, Hookah bars are gaining in popularity, primarily with the 18 to 24 year-old age group. But smoking tobacco out of a water pipe, also known as a hookah, is hazardous and poses as much risk to the smoker that cigarette smoking does. Water does not filter out all the toxins. So if you are planning to party tonight, it’s a good idea that you hit the dance floor minus the smoke and the booze!
Dr Mohammed Rehan Sayeed is Senior Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Apollo Hospitals, Bangalore

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