World Heart Day is on Saturday September 29 and Dr.Cory Couillard gives some pointed reminders on the role played by tobacco in heart disease.
Tobacco use is a global epidemic that brings disability, disease, lost productivity and death to entire countries and regions throughout the world.
Tobacco continues to be the leading cause of preventable death despite aggressive national educational campaigns.
Nearly 6 million people die every year via cancer, heart disease, lung disease and other chronic, long-term health conditions. Over the course of the 21st century, tobacco use could kill up to a billion people unless urgent action is taken says the World Health Organization (WHO).
Expensive healthcare costs are just the start to this global killer. It also causes hundreds of billions of dollars of economic losses via diminished productivity, missed work days, poor morale and the physical, mental and emotional strain that tobacco places on you and your family.
The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health disasters as it kills up to half of its users. If the current trends are allowed to continue, more than 8 million people a year will die by 2030.
Cigarette smoking is obviously still very common despite the known hazards. Upper middle to high-income countries are seeing drops in consumption but lower-income countries are increasing out of control. These countries are at greatest risk due to lack of education, poor legislative oversight and outright greed by tobacco companies.
Tobacco use is one of the most important risk factors in the development of cardiovascular disease. Statistics show that smoking increases the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease and impotence by 100% and increases the risk of death from undiagnosed coronary heart disease by 300%.
Nicotine, the addictive component in tobacco can accelerate the heart rate and raises blood pressure. It also damages the lining of the blood vessels, increases fatty deposits in the arteries, increases clotting, raises bad cholesterol, reduces good cholesterol and promotes coronary artery spasm according to the World Heart Federation.
Improved health within 20 minutes
The World Health Organisation says that there are immediate and long-term health benefits of quitting smoking. The following will demonstrate the powerful impact that quitting smoking will have on your health:
Within 20 minutes -- Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
12 hours -- The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
2-12 weeks -- Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
1-9 months -- Coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
1 year -- Your risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a smoker.
5 years -- Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.
10 years -- Your risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker and your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decreases.
15 years --The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker's.
If you quit smoking and have a relapse, do not worry. It has been quoted that 75% of people relapse at some point. The average person needs to quit three times before achieving success. The purpose is always constant, continual improvement. Even if you reduce the amount of cigarettes, it has a significant impact on your overall health and wellbeing.
Dr. Cory Couillard is an international healthcare speaker and columnist for He works in collaboration with the World Health Organization's goals of disease prevention and global healthcare education. His views do not necessarily reflect endorsement.