NEW DELHI: As many as 1.9 million people die from tobacco-induced heart disease every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a new brief on Tuesday ahead of World Heart Day on 29 September.
This equates to one in five of all deaths from heart disease, warned the report’s authors, urging all tobacco users to quit the habit as smokers are more likely to experience an acute cardiovascular event at a younger age than non-smokers.
The brief was prepared in association with the World Heart Federation and the University of Newcastle Australia.
WHO has also observed that high blood pressure and heart disease increase the risk of severe covid-19. A recent WHO survey found that among people dying of the respiratory disease in Italy, 67% had high blood pressure and in Spain, 43% of people who developed covid-19 were living with heart disease.
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, the risk of heart disease decreases 50% after a year of not smoking, the UN agency said.
Coronary heart disease accounts for 9.4 million deaths lives every year.
“Given the current level of evidence on tobacco and cardiovascular health and the health benefits of quitting smoking, failing to offer cessation services to patients with heart disease could be considered clinical malpractice or negligence,” said Dr Eduardo Bianco, Chair of the World Heart Federation Tobacco Expert Group.
As per the brief, smokeless tobacco is responsible for around 200,000 deaths while e-cigarettes raise blood pressure increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
“Governments have a responsibility to protect the health of their people and help reverse the tobacco epidemic. 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,” said Dr Vinayak Prasad, lead of the WHO No Tobacco Unit.
Governments can help users quit the habit by increasing tax on tobacco products, enforcing bans on advertising and offering services to help people give up tobacco.
A 2013 study in India had concluded that a combination of smoke-free legislation and increased taxes on tobacco products could avert 25% of heart attacks and stroke over 10 years, the brief said.
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