For your heart's sake stop smoking
On World Heart Day, 29 September 2011, the Public Health Agency is urging all smokers to stop smoking and reduce their risk of developing heart disease (cardiovascular disease - CVD) or suffering a stroke or a heart attack.Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death and illness in the UK. Research shows that smoking is one of the main contributors of the disease, causing around 25,000 deaths a year in the UK. Cigarette smokers are two times more likely than non-smokers to suffer a heart attack.The majority of people who suffer a heart attack before the age of 50 are smokers. Cigarette smoke causes heart disease by:Â· reducing oxygen to the heart;Â· increasing blood pressure and heart rate;Â· increasing blood clotting;Â· damaging cells that line coronary arteries and other blood vessels, causing narrowing of the arteries.From the moment smoke reaches your lungs, your heart is forced to work harder. Your pulse quickens, forcing your heart to beat an extra 10 to 25 times per minute, as many as 36,000 additional times per day. Because of the irritating effect of nicotine and other components of tobacco smoke, your heartbeat is more likely to be irregular. This can contribute to cardiac arrhythmia and many other serious coronary conditions, such as heart attack.For smokers who already suffer from heart problems, quitting will dramatically help. Many heart patients notice an almost immediate improvement when they stop smoking. Often, they need less medication and can cope better with physical exertion.Gerry Bleakney, Head of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement, PHA, said: "Smoking is one of the major causes of cardiovascular disease and smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attackas someone who has never smoked. One in every two long-term smokers will die prematurely from smoking-related diseases, many suffer very poor health before they die. However one year after successfully quitting smoking, an individual will have reduced their risk of having a heart attack to half that of a person continuing to smoke."Across Northern Ireland, there are over 600 support services for people who wish to stop smoking, based in GP surgeries, community pharmacies, hospitals, community centres and workplaces. I would encourage everyone who is thinking about quitting to log on to our Want 2 Stop website: www.want2stop.info and order a 'Quit Kit' free of charge alternatively contact the Smokers' Helpline on 0808 812 8008."