Fatal heart attack or stroke could be first sign of CVD in some smokers

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Death from a heart attack or stroke may be the first cardiovascular disease (CVD) event in some people who smoke cigarettes and CVD is the leading adverse health effect among smokers.

Decades of research links cigarette smoking to premature death caused by cardiovascular disease and other diseases such as lung cancer. According to the American Heart Association’s Heart and Stroke Statistical Update 2021, more than 480,000 U.S. adults die each year from cigarette smoking. Despite increasing awareness about the health benefits of quitting smoking, more than 34 million adults in the United States still smoke cigarettes.

Recent research has shown that middle-aged women who smoked were nearly twice as likely as non-smoking women to have a fatal CVD event as their first sign of CVD. Middle-aged men who smoked had a 79% chance of having a fatal CVD event as their first sign of cardiovascular disease – about 1.5 times more likely compared to middle-aged men who did not smoke. Smoking was associated with the development of cardiovascular disease at an earlier age. Among all age groups, a majority of the first CVD events were fatal or nonfatal heart attack. Fatal and nonfatal strokes were the next leading causes of first CVD event among those in the young age group. Heart failure was the second leading cause among the middle-aged and older age groups.

Dr. Hamp Jones, interventional cardiologist with Baptist Heart says, “Those who smoke need to hear – smoking can kill you before you even know you have cardiovascular disease. It can, indeed, be a silent killer. Heart attacks, strokes and other types of cardiovascular disease don’t always have early symptoms, so if you don’t know you have CVD, it can’t be treated. You can help prevent CVD by never smoking or stopping smoking as soon as possible”.

For information on services and screenings offered at Baptist Heart, visit baptistheart.org or call 601-968-1966.

Source: American Heart Association

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