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Health Concerns

Smoking and Heart Disease

Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease, the most common condition of heart disease.Footnote 1 Read more about What is heart disease?

Facts

The risk of coronary heart disease increases with both the number of years smoked and the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Even people who smoke fewer than 5 cigarettes per day are at an increased risk of this condition.Footnote 1,Footnote 2,Footnote 3,Footnote 4

There were 36,860 deaths from coronary heart disease in Canada in 2007.Footnote 5 Research has shown that, in 2002, smoking was responsible for almost half of all deaths from coronary heart disease among Canadians under the age of 45 years.Footnote 6

Smokers are up to 4 times more likely to have a sudden cardiac death than are non-smokers.Footnote 7,Footnote 8

People exposed to second-hand smoke are also at increased risk of coronary heart disease.Footnote 9

 

These health warning messages address heart disease for cigarettes and little cigars.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease refers to a number of conditions affecting the structure and function of the heart. Coronary heart disease, the most common condition, occurs when blood vessels of the heart are narrowed or blocked, starving it of blood. It can cause chest pain (also known as angina), shortness of breath and a heart attack, which may result in sudden cardiac death.

Treatment of coronary heart disease aims to improve blood flow to the heart. Types of treatment include lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation and exercise, drug treatment, and interventions such as angioplasty or heart surgery.

How does smoking increase the risk of heart disease?

Some of the toxic emissions Footnote 10,Footnote 11 contribute to hardening of the arteries (also called atherosclerosis) and to a stiffening of the heart blood vessels. These make the heart work harder, which can lead to heart attacks.Footnote 1

The benefits of quitting

After quitting, a former smoker's risk of coronary heart disease starts to decrease. Within a year, the risk is reduced by about half. The benefits increase over time and, after 15 years, the risk of developing coronary heart disease is similar to that of someone who has never smoked.Footnote 12,Footnote 13,Footnote 14

A smoker who quits after receiving coronary artery bypass surgery reduces their risk of ending up in hospital again for heart disease.Footnote 15

Among smokers who have coronary heart disease, quitting reduces the risk of dying from this condition.Footnote 12,Footnote 16

Quit Now is more effective than other measures to avoid the development of heart disease and other smoking-related diseases.

Need help to quit? Call the pan-Canadian quitline toll-free at 1-866-366-3667.

References

Footnotes

Footnote 1

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking. A Report of the Surgeon General: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2004. P. 380-387, 392.

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Footnote 2

Burns D, Shanks T, Choi W, et al. The American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study #1: 12-year follow-up on one million men and women. In: Burns D, Garfinkel L, Samet J, editors. Changes in cigarette-related disease risks and their implication for prevention and control. Smoking and Tobacco Control Monograph no. 8. NIH Pub. No. 97-4213. Bethesda (MD): US Department of Health and Human Services / National Institutes of Health / National Cancer Institute; 1997. P. 129-133.

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Footnote 3

Rosengren A, Wilhelmsen L, Wedel H. Coronary heart disease, cancer and mortality in male middle-aged light smokers. Journal of Internal Medicine. 1992;231:357-362.

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Footnote 4

Teo KK, Ounpuu S, Hawken S, Pandey MR, Valentin V, Hunt D, et al. Tobacco use and risk of myocardial infarction in 52 countries in the INTERHEART study: a case-control study. Lancet. 2006;368:647-58.

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Footnote 5

Statistics Canada. Table 102-0552 - Deaths and mortality rate, by selected grouped causes and sex, Canada, provinces and territories, annual (2007), CANSIM (database). 2011 [updated 2010 Nov 15; cited 2011 Feb 11]. Available from: Next link will take you to another Web site CANSIM - Pick list(s) Table 102-0529 - Deaths, by cause, Chapter IX: Diseases of the circulatory system (I00 to I99), age group and sex, Canada, annual (number)

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Footnote 6

Rehm J, Baliunas D, Brochu S, Fischer B, Gnam W, Patra J, et al. The costs of substance abuse in Canada 2002. Ottawa: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse; 2006

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Footnote 7

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: Cardiovascular Disease. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 1983. P.128.

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Footnote 8

Albert CM., Chae CU., Grodstein F, Rose LM, Rexrode KM, Ruskin JN, et al. Prospective Study on Sudden Cardiac Death Among Women in the United States, February 2003, DOI:10.1161/01.CIR.000065223.21530.11

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Footnote 9

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking an Health; 2006. P.519,532.

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Footnote 10

Rodgman, A., Perfetti, T.A. The chemical components of tobacco and tobacco smoke. (2009). CRCpress, Florida, USA. ISBN 978-1-4200-7883-1.

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Footnote 11

Hecht SS. Research Opportunities Related to Establishing Standards for Tobacco Products Under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Nicotine & Tobacco Research [http://ntr.oxfordjournals.org/] Commentary [accepted November 25, 2010]. Web Published 2011 January;10.1093/ntr/ntq216. Available from: Next link will take you to another Web site Research Opportunities Related to Establishing Standards for Tobacco Products Under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act

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Footnote 12

Kuller LH, Ockene JK, Meilahn E, Wentworth DN, Svendsen KH, Neaton JD. Cigarette Smoking and Mortality. Preventive Medicine. 1991;20(5):638-54.

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Footnote 13

International Agency for Research on Cancer. IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Tobacco Control, Vol. 11: Reversal of Risk After Quitting Smoking. Lyon (France); 2007. P.241.

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Footnote 14

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 1990. P.239-240.

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Footnote 15

Cavender JB, Rogers WJ, Fisher LD, Gersh BJ, Coggin CJ, Myers WO. Effects of smoking on survival and morbidity in patients randomized to medical or surgical therapy in the Coronary Artery Surgery Study (CASS): 10-year follow-up. CASS Investigators. Journal of the American College of Cardiology.1992;20(2):287-294.

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Footnote 16

Frost PH, Davis BR, Burlando AJ, Curb JD, Guthrie GP, Isaacsohn JL, et al. Coronary heart disease risk factors in men and women aged 60 years and older: findings from the Systolic Hypertension in the Elderly Program. Circulation. 1996;94(1):26-34.

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