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Heart Health and Smoking

When it comes to understanding the health risks of smoking, most people think first about its impact on the lungs. The truth is that smoking can hurt almost any part of your body—including your heart.
Available research proves that smoking hurts not only your heart, but also your entire cardiovascular system.
Did you know:

  • Smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease, which includes coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and heart-related chest pain. CVD is the leading cause of all deaths in the United States, and 1 in 5 deaths from CVD are caused by smoking.
  • Cigarette smokers are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers.
  • Smoking during adolescence and young adulthood can cause early damage to the abdominal aorta, the large artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart through the abdomen to major organs. Even young adults who have only been smoking for a few years can show signs of narrowing of this large artery and can develop early heart disease.
  • Smoking causes immediate damage to blood vessels throughout the body.
  • Any amount of smoking, even smoking a few cigarettes now and then, can damage the heart and blood vessels.

The impact isn’t limited to smokers themselves, either.

  • Breathing tobacco smoke can damage the hearts and blood vessels of nonsmokers in the same way it harms smokers.
  • Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke are 25 percent to 30 percent more likely to get heart disease.
  • More than 30,000 nonsmokers die every year in the U.S. from coronary heart disease caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.


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