According to the American Heart Association, cigarette smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States. It accounts for more than 440,000 of the more than 2.4 million annual deaths. Cigarettes smokers have a higher risk of developing several chronic disorders. These include fatty buildups in arteries, several types of cancers and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (lung problems). Atherosclerosis (buildup of fatty substances in the arteries) is a chief contributor to the high number of deaths from smoking. Many studies detail the evidence that cigarette smoking is major cause of coronary heart disease, which leads to heart attack.
Cigarette and tobacco smoke, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity and diabetes are the six major independent risk factors for coronary heart disease that you can modify or control.
Cigarette smoking is so widespread and significant as a risk factor that the Surgeon General has called it “the leading preventable cause of disease and deaths in the United States.”
Cigarette smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by itself. When it acts with other factors, it greatly increases the risk. Smoking increases blood pressure, decreases exercise tolerance and increases the tendency for blood to clot. Smoking also increases the risk of recurrent coronary heart disease after bypass surgery.
Smoking is the most important risk factor for young men and women. It produces a greater relative risk in persons under age 50.
Women who smoke and use oral contraceptives greatly increase their risk of coronary heart disease and stroke compared with nonsmoking women who use oral contraceptives.
Smoking decreases HDL (good) cholesterol. Cigarette smoking combined with a family history of heart disease also seems to greatly increase the risk.
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Sourced from: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/QuitSmoking/QuittingResources/Smoking-Cardiovascular-Disease_UCM_305187_Article.jsp#.V11OHPkrKM8