What is the link between heart disease, stroke and smoking?

Smoking causes coronary heart disease, accounting for one of every six deaths. Cigarette smokers are 2 to 4 times more likely than nonsmokers to develop coronary heart disease, and cigarette smokers are approximately 2 times more likely to have a stroke.

Both cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke increase the risk for heart disease. Cigarette smoking reduces circulation in coronary arteries by narrowing the blood vessels, decreasing HDL (good) cholesterol, increasing blood pressure, and increasing clotting in the blood.

Dr. Joanne M. Foody, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for a heart attack. It also puts you at risk for lung cancer, increases your chance of a stroke, and leads to coughing and shortness of breath. The good news is that it’s never too late to quit. If you stop smoking, you’ll improve your health and reduce your long-term risks—and you’ll see immediate benefits, some within just a few hours! And the benefits don’t stop there—within several years your stroke and heart disease risk can equal that of a non-smoker’s and your risk of cancer will be dramatically reduced as well.


Continue Learning about Heart Disease

It’s Never Too Late to Get Heart Healthier
It’s Never Too Late to Get Heart Healthier
If you think you can’t can turn your life around and become heart healthier because, “It’s just too late,” consider this: Navy surgeon Paul Spangler t...
Read More
What is a type A aortic dissection?
Murray H. Kwon, MDMurray H. Kwon, MD
A type A aortic dissection involves the first part of the aorta, the ascending aorta, as it comes of...
More Answers
6 Unexpected Effects of Heart Disease
6 Unexpected Effects of Heart Disease6 Unexpected Effects of Heart Disease6 Unexpected Effects of Heart Disease6 Unexpected Effects of Heart Disease
This common disease can hurt much more than your physical health.
Start Slideshow
Why Is Heart Disease So Prevalant?
Why Is Heart Disease So Prevalant?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.