Tobacco responsible for a fifth of heart disease deaths

Photo by Levent Simsek from Pexels

1.9 million people die from tobacco-induced heart disease every year, which equates to a fifth of all deaths from heart disease, a new brief released on Tuesday reveales.

The brief was released by the World Health Organisation, the World Heart Federation and the University of Newcastle Australia ahead of World Heart Day, which is observed on 29 September.

Even exposure to second-hand smoke may increase the risk of heart disease, but those who quit smoking will see their risk of heart disease decrease by 50% after just one year.

 “Given the current level of evidence on tobacco and cardiovascular health and the health benefits of quitting smoking, failing to offer cessation services to patients with heart disease could be considered clinical malpractice or negligence,” said Dr Eduardo Blanco, who chairs the World Heart Federation’s tobacco expert group.

“Cardiology societies should train their members in smoking cessation, as well as to promote and even drive tobacco control advocacy efforts,” he added.

The brief also showed that smokeless tobacco is responsible for around 200,000 deaths from coronary heart disease every year, and that e-cigarettes also raise blood pressure, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

High blood pressure and heart disease are known to increase the risk of severe Covid-19. A recent WHO survey had found that 67% of people dying of Covid-19 in Italy had high blood pressure, and that 43% of those who developed Covid-19 in Spain were living with heart disease.

“Governments have a responsibility to protect the health of their people and help reverse the tobacco epidemic. Making our communities smoke-free reduces the number of tobacco-related hospital admissions, which is more important than ever in the context of the current pandemic,” unit lead of the WHO No Tobacco Unit Dr Vinayak Prasad maintained.

The WHO argues that governments can help tobacco users quit by increasing taxes on tobacco products, enforcing bans on tobacco advertising and offering services to help people quit the habit.