Tobacco smoking triples the risk of having a heart attack and doubles the risk of having a stroke. Reuters
One in every five deaths is caused by cardiovascular diseases (CVD), totalling nearly 82000 lives lost annually in South Africa.

This is according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa (HSFSA).

During Heart Awareness Month this month,the HSFSA will be focusing on three core messages: tobacco use, high salt use and hypertension, as well as unhealthy diet with physical inactivity.

Health promotions manager for the HSFSA in Durban, Dana Govender, said: “There is no safe level of smoking. There is no such thing as a safe cigarette even, those labelled mild and low nicotine.”

Tobacco smoking triples the risk of having a heart attack and doubles the risk of having a stroke and globally one in eight deaths are tobacco-related. In South Africa, 37% of men and 7% of women smoke, increasing the risk for CVD substantially.

According to Govender, non-smokers who breathe in second-hand smoke suffer many of the diseases of active smoking. “Second-hand smoke (passive smoking) actually contains five times more carbon monoxide and six times more nicotine than first-hand smoking as the filter on a cigarette offers some protection for the smoker.”

Heart health awareness should also be practised among children: “Second-hand smoking causes problems in children including bronchitis, pneumonia, and worsened asthma and middle ear infections. If a pregnant mother smokes, she introduces nicotine to her unborn baby. These babies are at a risk of low birth weight and cognitive and physiological problems.”

For help to quit, contact the National Council Against Smoking on www.againstsmoking.co.za

The Saturday Star