Even One Cigarette Raises The Risk Of Heart Disease

Healthcare workers are always asking their patients to cut down on cigarettes because it is not good for their health. An article recently published in the British Medical Journal reveals that smoking even one cigarette a day carries a very high risk for coronary artery disease and stroke. This is the first study that shows the impact of light smoking and how it can still result in heart disease. The new study reviewed nearly 141 studies involving 13 million people.

It has always been assumed that cutting down smoking reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. The general feeling is that if an individual smokes one cigarette instead of 20, the risk of heart disease is cut down by 1/20th. However, these new findings indicate that this might not  true.

Findings from this study show that while smoking one cigarette a day lowered the risk of coronary artery disease and stroke by about 50% compared to smoking a pack, smoking even one  cigarette is still a significant risk factor. Males who smoke one cigarette every day had a 48% higher risk of coronary artery disease compared to males who never smoked, whereas females had a 57% increase in the risk of heart disease. The researchers observed a 30% increase in the risk of a stroke in both males and females.

The take-home message for people who smoke is that smoking any amount of cigarettes is considered risky. Based on this study, healthcare workers should be recommending that people quit smoking altogether instead of trying to reduce it if they really want to decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Hence, these new findings suggest that the growing trend among many smokers to cut back but not to quit smoking is not beneficial for these people in the long run.  Some people smoke on social occasions, and others smoke when they feel stressed. Both in the USA and the UK, the proportion of smokers who consume one to five cigarettes a day has steadily increased compared to people who smoke 10-20 cigarettes a day. The general feeling among consumers is that smoking less is not as harmful as smoking more but based on this study, this is erroneous thinking.

While there are many risk factors for heart disease and stroke, smoking remains at the very top.  Heart disease remains one of the most common causes of death globally.

The good news is that once an individual quits smoking, there is a rapid improvement in health, with the risk of heart attack dropping within 5 years. The biggest difficulty for most smokers is how to quit smoking-  that is far more difficult than reducing the number of cigarettes. However, it is an important goal if people really want to reduce their risk of coronary heart disease. Take an annual physical check regularly.

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