A new brief released on Tuesday, 22 September 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO) in conjunction with the World Heart Federation and the University of Newcastle Australia revealed that tobacco is responsible for 20% of the deaths from coronary heart disease.
1.9 million people dying from tobacco-induced heart disease equates to one in five of all deaths from heart disease.
The brief warned tobacco smokers to quit smoking to avoid cardiac problems, stressing that smokers are more likely to experience an acute cardiovascular event at a younger age compared to non-smokers.
According to the brief: “Just a few cigarettes a day, occasional smoking, or exposure to second-hand smoke increase the risk of heart disease. But if tobacco users take immediate action and quit, then their risk of heart disease will decrease by 50% after one year of not smoking.
“Smokeless tobacco is responsible for around 200 000 deaths from coronary heart disease per year. E-cigarettes also raise blood pressure, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
“Moreover, high blood pressure and heart disease increase the risk of severe COVID-19. A recent WHO survey found that among people dying of COVID-19 in Italy, 67% had high blood pressure and in Spain, 43% of people who developed COVID-19 were living with heart disease.”
The release also urged governments to take up the responsibility to protect the health of their people and help reverse the tobacco epidemic. Dr Vinayak Prasad, the Unit Head of WHO No Tobacco Unit said: “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.”
Cardiology societies were also urged to train their members in smoking cessation, as well as promoting and driving tobacco control advocacy efforts. Dr Eduardo Bianco, Chair of the World Health Federation Tobacco Expert Group, briefed that the failure to offer cessation services to patients with heart disease could be considered clinical malpractice or negligence.
As tobacco control is a key element for reducing heart disease, governments should enforce laws that will help tobacco users quit by increasing tax on tobacco products, imposing bans on tobacco advertising and offering services to help people give up tobacco.
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