Smoking and vaping: NHS shows difference between the two
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Heart disease is an umbrella term for health conditions that target your heart or your blood vessels. According to the British Heart Foundation, there are around 7.6 million people living with heart disease in the UK. Sadly, more than 160,000 people die because of this killer disease. One activity that could be negatively impacting the blood-pumping organ is smoking.
Linked to cancer, strokes, lung diseases and other health problems, smoking is considered to be a major killer.
While this activity is generally deemed unhealthy, the new study shares that it’s even worse than previously thought.
According to research, presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress, smoking is even more harmful to the heart than it seemed.
It’s been clear for decades that having a cigarette can block your arteries, eventually triggering heart disease.
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However, this new research also suggests that lighting one up makes your heart “thicker and weaker”. And this can leave your body struggling to pump blood.
What’s worse, the more cigarettes you finish, the worse your heart function can become.
Study author Dr Eva Holt said: “It is well known that smoking causes blocked arteries, leading to coronary heart disease and stroke.
“Our study shows that smoking also leads to thicker, weaker hearts. It means that smokers have a smaller volume of blood in the left heart chamber and less power to pump it out to the rest of the body.”
While some Britons have decided to nip this habit in the bud, based on the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, around 6.7 million still remain smokers.
This means that millions of people living in the UK are putting their hearts at a greater risk on a daily basis.
The good news is that the research suggested that the heart might be able to bounce back to a certain extent.
That’s why the study author prompted that it’s never too late to quit.
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The NHS offers free local stop smoking services that can talk you through methods that might help you quit. You can read more about your local service on the NHS website here.
Using data from another study, the researchers looked at a total of 3,874 participants between the ages of 20 to 99.
All of the participants were free from heart disease at the time of enrolment.
Using questionnaires, the study determined information on smoking history, nailing down the number of cigarettes smoked through life.
The study subjects also had to undergo an ultrasound of the heart, which helped to provide information on the organ’s structure and efficacy.
After adjusting for factors, ranging from sex to high cholesterol, the study found that smokers had thicker, weaker and heavier hearts.
Furthermore, smoking habits were associated with the worsening of the structure and function of the left heart chamber – “the most important part of the heart”.
Dr Holt concluded: “Our study indicates that smoking not only damages the blood vessels but also directly harms the heart. The good news is that some of the damage is reversible by giving up.”
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