Smoking and your health

Smoking is the leading cause of Cardiovascular Disease (including Heart Disease and Strokes) and smokers are twice as likely to have a Heart Attack as those who have never smoked.

How does smoking damage your heart?

  • Smoking damages the lining of your arteries, leading to a build-up of fatty material (atheroma) which narrows the artery. This can cause angina, a heart attack or a stroke.
  • The carbon monoxide poisonous gas in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. This means your heart has to pump harder to supply the body with the oxygen it needs.
  • The nicotine in cigarettes stimulates your body to produce adrenaline, which makes your heart beat faster and raises your blood pressure, making your heart work harder.
  • Your blood is more likely to clot (and so block the arteries) which increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Almost a third of smokers smoke fewer than 10 a day and often don’t see the point of giving up. But the majority of a smoker’s heart disease risk comes from the first few cigarettes of the day. Next time you light up, feel your pulse. It will start rising within a minute. That’s extra work for your heart, which gets less blood supply because of nicotine. Your blood tends to clot more with each cigarette, and the amount of oxygen it can carry goes down. Instead of oxygen, the blood cells carry carbon monoxide. All of these are risk factors for heart disease. Smoking just one cigarette a day triples your risk of lung cancer and raises the risk of chronic lung disease, as well as cancer of the mouth, throat, bladder, pancreas and many more. Many studies have shown that the risks increase the more you smoke, but all risks start with just one cigarette.

If you are thinking of quitting or just want more information, then finding the right support can make all the difference as research shows getting professional help doubles your chances of quitting!  is full of tips on how to quit with an online forum with 44,000 fellow quitters to swap tips with. You can also get support from the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 434 6677 or

Posted in: Health and Wellbeing