Smoking is a major cause of death from cardiovascular disease. It accounts for about 20% of cardiovascular deaths. Carbon monoxide and nicotine are probably the most important susbstances in tobacco smoke which affect the heart. Nicotine stimulates the body to produce adrenaline which makes the heart beat faster and rises the blood pressure. Carbon monoxide joins onto the red pigment of the blood called haemoglobin, and reduces its power to carry oxygen to the heart and to the other parts of the body. Both nicotine and carbon monoxide may encourage thrombosis (Blood clothing). Smoking is also a leading risk for lung diseases, cancer, hypertension, disease of leg arteries (intermittent claudicatio), and digestive disease. The risk of heart attack rises with the amount smoked. In general, people who smoke cigarettes have about twice as great a risk of a heart attack as those who do not. However, this increased risk is particularly large in smokers aged under about 50; their heart attack death rates are up to ten times greater than those for non-smokers of the same age. The more you smoke and the younger you started, the greater you risk. People who only smoke a pipe or cigars, and who have never smoked cigarettes, run a greater risk of heart disease than non-smokers, but their risk is less than that of cigarette smokers, probably because they do not inhale. Cigarette smokers, who change to pipes or cigars usually continue to inhale and as a result they may not reduce their risk.
Female smokers who take a birth control pill are about 20% to 40% more likely to develop coronary artery disease than female smokers who do not take the pill. The risk is higher in inhalers, in women and does not depend on age. Smokers have an increased risk of complication for hypertensives, including the development of nephrosclerosis and progression to malignant hypertension. Smokers have a fourfold risk of stroke compared with people who have never smoked. Furthermore the risk of stroke is fourfold compared to no smokers people. The risk of cardiovascular disease persists even at low level of smoking, that is, one two cigarettes per day.
Passive smoking increase the coronary death rate among never smokers by 20 to 70%. Pasive smoking also increases the risk for stroke, lung cancer and causes smarting of the eyes, a sore throat, or headaches.
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