If you think that smoking less than 6 cigarettes a day, or even a single cigarette a day, is safe, you are mistaken! From the moment one smokes, even little, the cardiovascular risk increases. From the first cigarette, one is already exposed to half the risk of smoking associated with a cigarette smoking of 20 cigarettes per day and this had been well demonstrated by an analysis published by the BMJ. The risk associated with one cigarette per day would be equivalent to almost 50% of the risk associated with one-pack smoking a day for men and one-third for women.
This result has important implications for many smokers and health professionals who believe that smoking only a few cigarettes a day is less bad than smoking a pack. Smokers should stop smoking altogether instead of just trying to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease. For the heart, reducing its consumption is useless: we must stop smoking!
Different risks in the short and long term
Even in the occasional smoker or "little smoker", the cigarette damages the heart and arteries. The dangers of smoking are present in the short and long term.
In the short term, smoking can cause spasms of the arteries, that is to say a sudden narrowing of these, the appearance of disorders of the heart rhythm and especially the formation of clots. A single cigarette makes the platelets hyper-excitable with a risk of aggregation of these platelets together and clot (thrombus). It is this phenomenon that causes myocardial infarction, stroke or sudden death in young adults. No need for atherosclerotic plaque at this stage to make an accident.
In the long term, it is the progressive degradation of the artery walls and the appearance of plaques leading to the reduction of the internal caliber of the arteries (atherosclerosis) which threatens the smoker. When exposed to other risk factors such as excess cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure, this atherosclerosis can be increased and it will affect all arteries.
It is essential to help smokers who want to stop and not to make them feel guilty, even if they have already failed in one or more previous attempts. Getting out of a 20-year addiction is difficult, it is not just a problem of will, it requires kindness and especially help. Several methods have shown their true effectiveness: patches, inhalers, withdrawal aids or hypnosis. In general, when smokers relapse early, it is that the dose of nicotine provided by the substitutes is not sufficient.
Every day, 200 people die because of tobacco. Smoking is the leading cause of death in France, causing 73,000 deaths each year. In addition to cardiovascular risks, tobacco can cause cancers of the lung, throat, mouth, pancreas, bladder … It is also responsible for erectile dysfunction, fertility and may worsen some diseases such as gastritis, ulcers, ENT infections …
Less than 6 cigarettes, it may be for the lungs
In tobacco, there is great variability in individual susceptibility, due to genetics and associated risk factors. For the risk of chronic bronchitis or lung cancer, a linear relationship between cigarette consumption and risk is objectified: it has been shown that smoking less than 6 cigarettes per day would be significantly less toxic to the bronchi.
The same is not true for the heart, where several studies conducted on individual data have shown that smoking only one to five cigarettes a day is associated with a very high risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke). There is no proportionality. It's all or nothing.
The good thing is that at an early stage, and even after a heart attack, there are no stenosing plaques, it is the platelet clot that is responsible: after 5 days, maximum 15, the risk has returned to zero and we have not damaged its arteries. The profit is then almost 100%!
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