Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Smoking Cessation Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Smoking and Heart Disease

Most people associate cigarette smoking with breathing problems and lung cancer. But smoking is also a major cause of heart disease for men and women.

Almost 20% of all deaths from heart disease in the U.S. are directly related to cigarette smoking. That's because smoking is a major cause of coronary artery disease.

A person's risk of heart disease and heart attack greatly increases with the number of cigarettes he or she smokes. People who smoke have a two to four times higher chance of having heart disease. And smokers continue to increase their risk of heart attack the longer they smoke. Women who smoke and also take birth control pills increase several times their risk of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.

Cigarette smoke not only affects smokers. When you smoke, the people around you are also at risk for developing health problems, especially children. Environmental tobacco smoke (also called passive smoke or secondhand smoke) affects people who are frequently around smokers. Secondhand smoke can cause chronic respiratory conditions, cancer, and heart disease. It is estimated that nearly 70,000 nonsmokers die from heart disease each year as a result of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.

How Does Smoking Increase Heart Disease Risk?

The nicotine present in smoke causes heart disease by:

  • Decreasing oxygen to the heart.
  • Increasing blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Increasing blood clotting.
  • Damaging to cells that line coronary arteries and other blood vessels.

How Can Quitting Smoking Be Helpful?

Now that you know how smoking can be harmful to your health and the health of those around you, here are some ways quitting can be helpful. If you quit smoking, you will:

  • Prolong your life.
  • Reduce your risk of disease (including heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, lung cancer, throat cancer, emphysema, ulcers, gum disease, and other conditions).
  • Feel healthier. After quitting, you won't cough as much and you will increase your stamina.
  • Look better. Quitting can help you prevent face wrinkles, get rid of stained teeth, and improve your skin.
  • Improve your sense of taste and smell.
  • Save money.

How to Quit Smoking

There's no one way to quit smoking that works for everyone. To quit, you must be ready both emotionally and mentally. You must also want to quit smoking for yourself and not to please your friends or family. It helps to plan ahead.

1 | 2 | 3

WebMD Medical Reference

Today on WebMD

Smoking and Heart Disease
ARTICLE
Ways Smoking Affects Looks
Slideshow
 
Putting out cigarette
USER REVIEWS
Woman smoking, close-up
Quiz
 

Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article
Quit Smoking Aids
VIDEO
 
Lung Cancer Risks Myths and Facts
SLIDESHOW
man with inhaler
Quiz
 

Erectile Dysfunction
SLIDESHOW
How To Quit Smoking
VIDEO
 
person pouring water into mouth
SLIDESHOW
How You Can Control Blood Sugar and Manage Insulin
SLIDESHOW