Smoking is very bad for your heart. It greatly increases the risk of a heart attack, other types of heart disease and stroke.
Quitting smoking is the most important way to lower your risk of heart problems. The good news is that once you stop smoking, the extra risk is reduced quickly.
What smoking does to your heart
Smoking affects the vessels that supply blood to your heart and other parts of your body. It reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and damages blood vessel walls.
Smoking can increase the risk of:
- stroke by 3 times
- peripheral arterial disease (e.g. clogging of the arteries in your legs) by more than 5 times
- an artery wall becoming weak and possibly rupturing by 6-7 times.
Cigarette smoke has thousands of chemicals, including these dangerous ones:
- nicotine – an addictive drug that affects your brain and muscle activity, and increases your blood pressure, making your heart work harder
- carbon monoxide – a poisonous gas that replaces oxygen in your blood, making your heart beat faster than usual
- tar – a sticky substance that coats your lungs like soot in a chimney, making it hard for you to breathe, and that contains a variety of chemicals that cause cancer.
Breathing in other people’s smoke (passive smoking) on a regular basis increases your risk of heart disease by about 30%. Try not to be around other people who smoke.
We don’t support using e-cigarettes. It’s better to stop smoking altogether.
Quitting smoking can be hard at first. But it’s like learning to ride a bike or drive a car – you can do it with planning, practice and help. The benefits of quitting outweigh any temporary difficulties or symptoms you may feel.
Plan to quit
- Set a date for quitting.
- Begin to change your habits.
- Learn how to handle stress and urges to smoke.
- Think about who and what can help you through the tough times.
Don’t give up
Many people slip up after they quit and start smoking again. Don’t see this as a failure. Instead think about what made you smoke again. How can you deal with this situation next time? What worked and what didn’t work? Learn from this and try quitting again. You become better at quitting each time you try.
Get help to quit
You can get lots of help to quit. Talk to your doctor or health practitioner about giving up smoking.
Call the Quitline (13 7848) or visit the Quit website.
You can also use the quit smoking action plan designed to help heart attack survivors. Learn more about recovering from a heart attack.
- Smoking and your heart – English (PDF)
- Smoking and your heart – Arabic (PDF)
- Smoking and your heart – Cantonese (PDF)
- Smoking and your heart – Greek (PDF)
- Smoking and your heart – Italian (PDF)
- Smoking and your heart – Mandarin (PDF)
- Smoking and your heart – Vietnamese (PDF)