Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and has negative health impacts on people during all stages of life. Smoking harms unborn babies, infants, children, adolescents, adults and seniors and has been associated with sudden cardiac death of all types in both men and women. Statistics show that one out of every six deaths in this country is related to smoking. Coronary artery disease and stroke - the primary types of cardiovascular disease caused by smoking - are the first and third leading causes of death in the United States.
Smoking-related coronary heart disease contributes to congestive heart failure. An estimated 4.6 million Americans have congestive heart failure and 43,000 die from it every year. Toxins found in the blood from smoking cigarettes contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, a progressive hardening of the arteries caused by the deposit of fatty plaques and the scarring and thickening of the artery wall. Inflammation of the artery wall and the development of blood clots can obstruct blood flow and cause heart attacks or strokes. In 2003, an estimated 1.1 million Americans had a new or recurrent coronary attack.
Cigarette smoking is a major cause of strokes. The incidence of stroke in the United States is estimated at 600,000 cases per year, and the one-year fatality rate is about 30 percent.
The good news is that even for long-term smokers, quitting smoking carries major and immediate health benefits. When smokers quit, their bodies start to repair immediately. For example, former smokers have the same stroke risk as nonsmokers five to 15 years after quitting. Other remarkable changes that happen within just days of quitting include:
- After one day, the odds of having a heart attack begin to drop
- After two weeks, lung function increases by up to 30 percent
- After one year, excess risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half
- After fifteen years, the risk of a heart attack is the same as someone who never smoked
How to Stop
Carol Southard, R.N., M.S., smoking cessation specialist for the Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness, leads both group and individual smoking cessation programs to help smokers to stop smoking. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 1-877-926-4664 or 312-926-2069.
Kim R. Lebowitz, Ph.D., director of Cardiac Behavioral Medicine service offers both group and individual smoking cessation programs to help smokers to stop smoking. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 312-695-4965.