Smoking is a principal, preventable cause of premature death in the developed world. It is a major cause of coronary artery disease (CAD), a condition where the blood vessels supplying the heart muscles become narrowed leading to chest pains (angina) or heart attacks. The image below shows a coronary artery (blood vessel supplying the heart) with a tight narrowing affecting the mid segment. This is often a finding in smokers.
Heart attacks lead to damage of the heart muscle, which can lead to the failure of the heart to pump adequately. This can cause fluid build-up in the lungs as well as in the limbs. This condition, called heart failure, is very common and associated with a very high rate of disability and death.
Smoking multiplies the effect of other risk factors for CAD like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Men who smoke have a 60%-70% greater death rate than those who don’t. Sudden death may be the first manifestation of CAD in young male smokers. Women smokers have a 10 times increased risk of developing CAD than non-smokers.
Low tar cigarettes and smokeless tobacco are not effective substitutes for discontinuing the use of tobacco products. Passive smoking in those who have never smoked increases the risk of CAD.
Smoking cessation produces immediate and long-term benefits. There is a substantial decrease in the risk of a heart attack within 1 year of stopping smoking. Those who quit smoking prior to the age of 50 have half the risk of dying in the next 15 years compared to continuing smokers.
Below you’ll find a few poems I’ve written which my wife thinks are a waste of my time but I hope will help open your mind to where smoking is leading you and how much you stand to lose.