What does smoking to do to your heart?
- Causes the artery walls to narrow due to the build-up of fatty materials, increasing the risk of clots forming which can lead to a heart attack or stroke
- Raises your blood pressure and speeds up your heart heart rate
- Deprives the heart, brain and arteries of oxygen supply meaning your heart has to pump harder to supply the body with the oxygen it needs
- Decreases tolerance to HDL (good) cholesterol.
Long and short-term effects of smoking
- Lung cancer
- Cancers of the colon, mouth, throat, bladder, and cervix
- Emphysema and bronchitis
- Smoker’s cough
- Heart disease and stroke
- Complications during pregnancy that can lead to an underweight baby or premature death in infancy
- Digestive problems
- Gum disease
- Shortness of breath
- Worsening of asthma symptoms
- Respiratory infection
- Harm to pregnancy
Did you know?
Passive smoking (exposure to the cigarette smoke of others) increases the the risk of developing heart disease by 25-40%.
When you give up smoking, the harmful effects caused by this deadly habit can be reversed very quickly. For more information on why and how to quit please see the lifestyle section of our website.
Be mindful of how much and how often you are consuming alcohol; as excessive consumption of alcohol can increase the risk of heart disease.
Drinking too much alcohol can lead to:
- Weight gain (due to increased calories)
- Increased blood pressure and blood lipids
- Weakened heart muscle
- Irregular heart beat
Limit your alcohol intake to no more than 2 standard drinks and aim to have at least two alcohol free days during the week to give your liver a rest! Periodically take a break from any alcohol for a week or more and you will notice many benefits including a better night’s sleep, improved mental health and increased energy levels.
The main 2 categories are high and low blood pressure
1 in 4 women has Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. This means that your blood pressure is consistently higher than the recommended level (exceeding 140/80 mm Hg). This can put you at risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Significant lifestyle changes can help reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure.
Hypotension, otherwise known as low blood pressure, is when your BP is less than 90/60 mm Hg. This indicates that pressure of your blood circulating around your body is inadequate and could mean that certain organs are not receiving enough blood. It can be just as serious as high blood pressure and should not be ignored.
You can assess your blood pressure risk using the tool developed by the American Heart Association.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that circulates around the body in your blood. Lipoproteins carry cholesterol in the blood.
Cholesterol comes from two sources: your body and the food you eat.
1 in 3 women have high blood cholesterol and this can increase the risk of heart disease.
There are two types of cholesterol
High-density lipoprotein (HDL)
- Known as the “good” or “healthy” cholesterol.
- HDL carries cholesterol away from the arteries to the liver to be eliminated.
- The more HDL in your body the better protected you are against the buildup of plaque in your arteries.
- Assists in the production of Vitamin D, hormones such as estrogen and digests fats.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
- Known as the “bad” or “unhealthy” cholesterol.
- High levels of LDL can cause a buildup of plaque on the artery walls causing them to narrow which can restrict blood flow that can result in having a heart attack or stroke..
Types of Diabetes
Do you know your body fat content? If you think that you are overweight, then you put yourself at risk of having heart disease.
Being overweight will increase your blood pressure and increase your risk in developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes, arthritis and certain cancers.
In addition to that, it’s not just how much you weigh but where you carry your excess fat. Women who carry weight around their middle (belly fat) as opposed to their hips are twice as likely to develop heart disease.
Benefits of managing your weight:
- Lower blood pressure and better management of high blood pressure
- Improved quality of life
- Improved mood and sleep
- Improved lung function
By taking the steps to reduce your weight, you can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Are you physically active every day? Recent research indicates that “sitting is the new smoking”, and being physically inactive can double your risk of having heart disease.
To maintain health and reduce your risk of health problems, it is recommended that you engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days. Being active in small ways throughout the day can make a big difference. If you’re finding it hard to fit in 30 minutes of continuous activity in your day, try exercising in 10-minute bouts three times a day. This has shown to be as effective as 30 minutes of continuous exercise.
Benefits of physical activity:
- Reduced risk of heart attack
- Manage your weight better
- Improved quality of life
- Improved mood and sleep
- Stronger bones, muscles and joints
- Reduce anxiety and depression
More information about depression and mental health
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) is an international nonprofit membership organization and a leader in education, training, and research for anxiety, depression and related disorders.
Hope For Depression Research Foundation (HDRF) is the leading non-profit focused solely on depression research, with an unprecedented Depression Research Road Map created and executed by our team of world renowned neuroscientists.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
Depression information resource page curated and updated by the APA for the community.
The Black Dog Institute is an organisation dedicated to understanding, preventing, and treating mental illness.
Beyondblue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.
Mind is one of Australia’s leading community-managed specialist mental health service providers, giving practical and motivational support that helps people to develop the skills they need to move on, thrive and improve the quality of their lives.
WayAhead is a non-government, community-based organisation and registered charity, working to educate people on mental health and wellbeing and link them to services and resources that improve their mental health throughout New South Wales.
Mental Health Foundation Australia is an organisation that works to deepen understanding of the importance of mental wellbeing.
Mind is a charity that provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem.
Friends in Need is a way for people affected by depression to meet online and in their local area.
Samaritans is an organisation that provides support to anyone who needs help through 201 branches across the UK and Republic of Ireland.
High Stress Levels
Stress is your mind and body’s response to any demand or stressor. Stress can actually be seen in a positive light, motivating us a little to get things done.
However, too much stress can become a danger and can take its toll on your wellbeing when there is too much for your body to manage.
Change is often the biggest cause of stress. What may be a stressful event for one person may not necessarily be stressful for another.
Those who are constantly stressed are at risk of adopting unhealthy behaviours in order to reduce stress levels. Examples include increasing their alcohol intake or smoking in order to relax, or eating more junk food because they are often short of time. All of these factors increase their risk of heart disease.