Heart Health Namibia

Your Heart. Your Choice

Smoking

How does smoking cause an increased risk of heart disease?

  • Build-up of fatty plaques which cause narrowing of arteries
  • Carbon monoxide reduces oxygen in the blood
  • Nicotine causes adrenaline release = heart rate increase
  • Increase risk of blood clotting

Why should I quit smoking?

  • It is the single best thing you can do for your heart
  • Smokers are two times as likely to have a heart attack as a non-smoker

What is second-hand smoke and why is it a problem?

  • Passive smoking – when non-smokers breath in cigarette smoke
  • This exposure can cause heart disease

Smoking is an enemy of the heart!

Do you know exactly what you are smoking? Do you want to find out?

By Didi Dirkse

Do you know exactly what you are smoking? Do you want to find out? Well, smoking may seem cool to most of us but it wouldn’t be so cool if your heart stops beating, right? I sometimes wonder why people smoke. Is it maybe because you are stressed and you want your brain to “relax”? I heard that’s one of the reasons why people smoke. I don’t know if it is true though all I know is that it’s an enemy of your heart. Maybe in this choice, you don’t know that you’re playing with fire and you are putting your life at a high risk, or maybe you do, maybe you are just ignorant.

Nevertheless, let’s not live on maybes and let’s face reality and start talking about the facts. Smoking is very bad for your heart; it is a combination that can lead to death also, if not stopped of course. You can’t smoke and have a healthy heart at the same time, they are enemies. If you choose to smoke, as time goes by and you keep on smoking and smoking, you would end up dying. But if you choose to have a heart, you would not want to harm it and you wouldn’t try to smoke or stop. The cigarette you smoke contains harmful chemicals like nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide. Chemicals damage your vessel walls which promotes fatty plaque formation. Smoking increases blood pressure by stimulating a stress response in the body with nicotine. Nicotine increases adrenaline, which raises heart rate. Smoking also reduces efficiency of gas exchange in the lungs by damaging structures such as alveoli and trachea. The heart needs oxygenated blood, so the heart needs to first oxidize the blood and then pump to the rest of the body.

So if the harmful chemical carbon monoxide, replaces oxygen being carried by red blood cells. This reduces the amount of oxygen circulated around the body which means later on it would have an enormous effect on your heart. Reduced oxygen received from the lungs results in the heart having to work harder to pump around the same amount of oxygen.

So you think smoking would only be bad for you? No, you are wrong. Just because you chose to smoke, maybe knowing the risks it would have on your health or maybe not, doesn’t mean a non-smoker is not affected. If you smoke in an area where people are, it would affect them too. For example, you’re a parent and you smoke outside in the yard trying to get away from the people inside the house. Well as we all know by now, smoke is a gas in the air. So this polluted air with the chemicals of the cigarette would still travel around, in the house, outside doesn’t matter. This person would definitely inhale this toxic air. “Passive smoking is an unfair danger people that are exposed to every day”, says health expert Patrick Colhoun. Passive smoking is when someone breathes in the combination of: smoke exhaled by a smoker plus the smoke from the end of a burning cigarette or cigar.

I know, this problem cannot be changed overnight. Quitting smoking can be really tough because nicotine makes it addictive. But if shops and street-sellers stop selling cigarettes it would bring some change. If we can encourage and teach people more about the dark-side of a cigarette and what it can do to your heart then let’s do it!

1) How much more likely are smokers to have a heart attack than non-smokers?'

No more likely
Twice as likely
Three times as likely
Four times as likely

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