Smoking is the single biggest risk factor for heart attacks in men and women
The most effective way to avoid a heart attack is to stop smoking altogether. Even one cigarette every day increases the risk of a heart attack by 50%. In addition to kicking the habit, smokers can reduce their overall cardiovascular risk by being physically active, eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy body weight, and controlling blood cholesterol and blood pressure.
More than 1 billion people in the world smoke, of which 80% live in low and middle-income countries. Each year, smoking kills five million people and passive smoking kills 600,000 people. Healthcare spending on smoking-related diseases is similarly significant and increasing; the burden of smoking cost the European economy over €500 billion in 2009.
Despite the massive reduction in cardiovascular disease in the last 30 years, it remains the main cause of death worldwide. Most cardiovascular disease is avoidable. A healthy lifestyle could prevent more than 80% of cardiovascular disease.
Smoking is lethal and even one cigarette a day is one too many. Smoking one cigarette every day increases the risk of a heart attack by 50%. Heavier smokers have an even higher risk. Any amount of smoking is harmful, and quitting is the only healthy option.
Cravings for a cigarette usually last 3 to 5 minutes. If you can get over those few minutes, you are well on the way to not having that cigarette. The 4 D’s can help you do that.
- Delay: wait at least 3 minutes; the urge will pass
- Drink: water or juice
- Distract yourself: move away from the situation, and do something different
- Take deep breaths: breathe slowly and deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth.
The most effective way for smokers to reduce their chance of a heart attack is to kick the habit. Risk can be reduced further by being physically active, eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy body weight, and controlling blood cholesterol and blood pressure.