The risk of heart disease is many times higher for smokers than for non-smokers. Against widespread opinion, the number of cigarettes (and other tobacco products) smoked per day is not a reliable indicator for the risk level of heart disease. There is no evidence that “light” (low-tar and low-nicotine) cigarettes decrease the risk compared to regular versions.
The Risk of Heart Disease
Is Many Times Higher for Smokers
Study after study has found that smokers have on average lower HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels. Elevated carbon monoxide and reduced oxygen in the blood stream are known effects as well. The blood vessels of smokers tend to be narrower and blood vessel walls often don’t function properly. Nicotine increases the heart rate, which can make the occurrence of a heart attack more likely.
Most negative health effects related to smoking diminish substantially after quitting, sometimes within a few months. One study suggests that within 3 years of smoking cessation the risk of coronary artery disease becomes comparable to lifetime non-smokers.
Considering the compelling data we have about the dangers of smoking and the huge amount of public campaigning against tobacco use, it is remarkable how many people, especially members of the younger generations, still form the habit. Smoking is considered by some as chic, cool and a symbol of rebellion and independence. This will not change for some time. But smokers must be made aware that they act at their own peril and despite of better knowledge.