Report: Early Life Smoking Drastically Raises Heart Disease Risk

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Smoking kills, and it’s not just lung cancer — but heart disease, too.

Smoking, especially those who begin at a young age, seriously increases a person’s risk of cardiovascular issues, including incidences of mortality, according to recent data from the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Smokers, especially those who began the habit before adolescence, showed a correlated increase in cardiovascular-related deaths.

“Age at starting to smoke is an important, but underappreciated, determinant of adult cardiovascular mortality, and this study indicates that the [roughly] 5 million US smokers who began before age 15 years are at especially high risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease if they do not quit,” the study states. “If the associations between smoking and cardiovascular mortality are largely causal, then smoking is a cause of more than two-thirds of all premature deaths from cardiovascular disease among smokers who began before age 15 years.”

What Does the Smoking and Heart Disease Study Say?

Using data from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey, researchers established a clear link between serious concerns and early smoking.

The survey collected information from a pool of 390,929 adults, ages 25 to 74, between 1997 to 2014. The report illustrated some alarming facts.

Moreover, researchers published this data after fine-tuning their outcomes for factors, including:

  • AgeEarly Smoking Heart Disease Risk
  • Education
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Region
  • Race

For those who began smoking between the ages of 10 to 14, there was a 19% higher chance of suffering a premature death from stroke or heart disease. There was an even greater risk for those who started earlier.

Despite this being newly published data, the overall idea is not new, according to Blake Thomson, the lead study author, and an epidemiologist at the University of Oxford.

“It was surprising to see how consistent these findings were with our earlier research and with other studies from around the world, including from the U.K., Australia, and Japan, among others, both in terms of the substantial risks associated with smoking and with the health benefits of quitting smoking,” Thomson said in a news release.

Why Should Latinos Care about the Study on Smoking and Heart Disease?

This group does not have the highest smoking rates among their racial peers, but it is still a significant problem. About 9.8% of Latino adults are current smokers.

The CDC reports that:

  • The number of cigarettes smoked per day is highest among Cuban daily smokers than daily smokers within other Hispanic/Latino groups.
    • 50% of Cuban men and more than 35% of Cuban women report smoking 20 or more cigarettes per day.
  • Mexican men and women are less likely than other Hispanic/Latino groups to report that they smoke 20 or more cigarettes per day. Coronavirus Transmission Thirdhand Smoke Secondhand
  • Intermittent current cigarette smoking (smoking only some days in the past month) is most common among Mexican men—15.5% compared to 9.8% of Central American men, 9% of Puerto Rican men, and 4.9% of Cuban men.
  • Hispanic women generally have a low prevalence of cigarette smoking during pregnancy.

Given the number of smokers across the Latino community, this data should be concerning.

“The age at which a person begins smoking is an important and often overlooked factor, and those who start smoking at a young age are at especially high risk of dying prematurely from cardiovascular disease,” Thomson said in a news release.

Still, quitting smoking can have a huge impact on heart disease risk. The study found a 90% drop in the risk of premature mortality for those who gave up the practice before turning 40-years-old.

“Getting people to quit smoking remains one of the greatest health priorities globally,” Thomson said.

What Can I Do?

While smoke-free advocates are lobbying for greater regulation at all government levels, Thomson believes that change can come now.

“Preventing the next generation from smoking can save lives, but we must also emphasize that quitting smoking can save lives now, and in the years to come,” he said in a news release. “Simply put, health policies should aim to prevent young people from smoking and should clearly communicate the benefits of quitting to those who do smoke, ideally as young as possible, and before the onset of serious illness.”

That includes not smoking.

If you are interested in stopping smoking, either tobacco or vaping, join Quitxt.

Quitxt is a bilingual service for your smartphone that sends messages with culturally and regionally tailored support to help South Texas young adults quit smoking. quitxt-logo

Join Quitxt via Facebook Messenger, just hit “send message”!

The service uses text messages, or Facebook Messenger chat to help with motivation to quit, set a quit date, find things to do instead of smoking, handle stress, use nicotine replacement if needed, and more. The service was created by Amelie G. Ramirez, leader of Salud America! at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio.

Learn more about Quitxt text-message program in English or Spanish to help you quit smoking today!

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By The Numbers By The Numbers

28

percent

of Latino kids suffer four or more adverse childhood experiences (ACES).

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