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P1215 Women and Heart Disease

C H A P T E R 9 SMOKING AND HEART DISEASE Cigarette smokers are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than nonsmokers. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can shrink coronary arteries, making it difficult for blood to circulate. Smoking can also cause the lining of blood vessels to become stickier, which makes blood clots more likely— increasing the risk of stroke. As soon as you stop smoking, your risk of heart disease and stroke starts to drop. In time, your risk will be about the same as if you’d never smoked. Smoking and its effect on the heart The nicotine and carbon monoxide in smoke temporarily increase your blood pressure, heart rate and the amount of blood pumped by your heart. Other effects of smoking: 77 Reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, causing it to thicken and making clots more likely to form. 77 Causes build-up of plaque in the arteries. 77May also disturb the heart’s rhythm, causing an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia); some arrhythmias can result in a stroke, or sudden cardiac arrest and death. If you smoke and have high blood pressure, your stroke risk can be 20 times higher than that of a nonsmoker with normal blood pressure. Constant exposure to secondhand smoke raises PLAY VIDEO Smoking the risk of heart disease and stroke, too, even for nonsmokers. Creating a quit plan Once you’ve made the decision to quit smoking, your first © American College of Cardiology. All rights reserved. Used with permission. step is to put together a quit plan. The following steps will help you on your path to becoming smoke-free. 77 Set a quit date. When that date comes, follow through. 77Write and sign a contract that says you’re going to quit for good. Have a witness sign it, and make sure the witness is someone who believes you can quit. 77 Ask other smokers in your household if they’ll quit with you. 77 Think about people and situations that make you want to smoke. Plan how you can avoid or deal with these triggers without smoking. 77 Talk to your healthcare provider about prescription medication to help you quit. Also consider over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy such as a patch, spray or gum. When used as directed, these products make you much more likely to quit. 26 abcardio.org


P1215 Women and Heart Disease
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