Approximately 22% of US women and 26% of UK women are currently cigarette smokers.1,2 In general, a woman who smokes has two to six times the risk of a heart attack of a non-smoking woman.9 Absolute smoking cessation (as opposed to decreased cigarette use) should be the goal, because a woman who smokes one to four cigarettes a day is at twice the risk of an acute MI as a non-smoker, while a woman who smokes more than 45 cigarettes a day has a risk that is 11 times higher than that of a non-smoker.10
Smoking by women causes 1.5 times as many deaths from CHD as from lung cancer.9 Active or passive exposure to nicotine and its by-products impairs endothelial function. Exposure to nicotine increases clotting proteins (fibrinogen), enhances the reactivity of platelets (making thrombosis more likely), and increases the viscosity of the blood. Smoking also decreases the advantageous HDL cholesterol.11 Nicotine exposure injures the endothelium and destabilizes previously established atherosclerotic plaques by promoting plaque rupture and the development of superimposed coronary thrombosis. The process ofplaque ruptures and superimposed thrombosis is the sequence of events now accepted to be at the root of most MIs.
Complete cessation of nicotine use and avoidance of passive nicotine inhalation should be the goals. Women should be offered access to formal smoking-cessation programs, which can provide counseling, temporary nicotine replacement therapy, and behavioral therapy.
Was this article helpful?
Quit smoking for good! Stop your bad habits for good, learn to cope with the addiction of cigarettes and how to curb cravings and begin a new life. You will never again have to leave a meeting and find a place outside to smoke, losing valuable time. This is the key to your freedom from addiction, take the first step!