Smoking and your heart

Hypnotherapy can help with the heart and circulation by quitting smoking

Cardiovascular disease refers to disorders of the heart and circulatory system. The latter includes the arteries that supply blood to all organs of the body and veins which return the de-oxygenated blood to the heart. Each year, tobacco smoking accounts for more than 30,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease in the UK. Approximately 1 in 4 of all smoking-related deaths in the UK is from cardiovascular disease. The UK has some of the highest heart disease deaths in the world. In order to reduce this toll, the Government has introduced the National Service Framework (NSF) on Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) which will provide the means for achieving the target of cutting CHD and stroke by 40% by 2010. The first phase of the plan includes a requirement for all health authorities to set up smoking cessation services; as employers to have smoking policies; and to help establish programmes to reduce smoking in the local population.

What is Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)?

The heart needs a steady supply of blood to function effectively. Coronary heart disease (also known as coronary artery disease or ischemic heart disease) is a general term that describes conditions caused by an interrupted or diminished blood flow through the coronary arteries to the heart muscle. The most common way that this flow of oxygen-rich blood becomes reduced is by the build up of fatty deposits (atherosclerosis) or the formation of a blood clot (thrombosis) in the arteries. When the blood supply to the heart is interrupted, it sometimes causes the chest pain known as angina. When the blood supply is cut off completely, a myocardial infarction or heart attack occurs. The heart muscle may become permanently damaged by this complete and prolonged interruption of the blood supply to it.

Risk factors for Coronary Heart Disease

Cigarette smoking, raised blood cholesterol and high blood pressure are the most firmly established, non hereditary risk factors leading to CHD, with cigarette smoking being the “most important of the known modifiable risk factors for CHD”, according to the US Surgeon General. A cigarette smoker has an increased risk of both having a heart attack and dying from CHD, with the risk increased most in younger smokers. A review of heart disease incidence in 21 countries found that people under the age of 40 had a five times greater risk of heart attack if they smoked. Overall, a smoker has two to three times the risk of having a heart attack than a non-smoker. If both of the other main risk factors are present then the chances of having a heart attack can be increased eight times. Even light smokers are at increased risk of CHD. A large Danish study found that smoking the equivalent of 3-5 cigarettes per day significantly increased the risk of developing heart disease and all cause mortality and that the relative risk was higher in women than in men. These results were replicated in a Norwegian study which found that men who smoked were more than two-and-a-half times more likely to die from heart disease compared with non-smokers and women had a three-fold increased risk.

The role of smoking in Cardiovascular Disease

Inhaling tobacco smoke causes several immediate responses within the heart and its blood vessels. Within one minute of starting to smoke, the heart rate begins to rise: it may increase by as much as 30 percent during the first 10 minutes of smoking. Carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke exerts a negative effect on the heart by reducing the blood’s ability to carry oxygen.

Smoking tends to increase blood cholesterol levels. Furthermore, the ratio of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) to low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) tends to be lower in smokers compared to non-smokers. Smoking also raises the levels of fibrinogen (a protein which causes blood to clot) and increases platelet production (also involved in the formation of blood clots) which makes the blood more sticky. Carbon monoxide attaches itself to haemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying pigment in red blood cells) much more easily than oxygen does. This reduces the amount of oxygen available to the tissues. All these factors make smokers more at risk of developing various forms of atherosclerotic disease. As the atherosclerotic process progresses, blood flows less easily through rigid and narrowed arteries and the blood is more likely to form a thrombosis (clot). This sudden blockage of an artery may lead to a fatal heart attack, a stroke or gangrene of the leg.

Hypnotherapy prevents aneurysms

An aneurysm is a ballooning of the wall of an artery which leads to risk of bursting or clotting, which may have catastrophic consequences. Smokers are very much more likely to die from a ruptured aneurysm of the abdominal aorta than non-smokers. A British study of over 5,000 men and women aged 65-79 years found that smoking was the most important avoidable risk factor for abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Hypnosis prevents Peripheral vascular disease (PVD)

Smokers have a 16 times greater risk of developing peripheral vascular disease (blocked blood vessels in the legs or feet) than people who have never smoked. Smokers who ignore the warning of early symptoms and continue to smoke are more likely to develop gangrene of a leg. Cigarette smoking combines with other factors to multiply the risks of atherosclerosis. Patients who continue to smoke after surgery for PVD are more likely to relapse, leading to amputation, and are more likely to die earlier.

Hypnotherapy prevents Thromboangiitis Obliterans (Buerger’s Disease)

This is a rare form of PVD that most commonly affects the small and medium-sized arteries, veins, and nerves of the arms and legs. There is an extremely strong association between the heavy use of tobacco and Buerger’s disease. The disease typically occurs in young male smokers, with the onset of symptoms before the age of 40-45 years. The only proven treatment to prevent progression of the disease and avoid amputation is the complete cessation of smoking or other use of tobacco.

Strokes are prevenatable by quitting smoking with hypnosis

Smokers are more likely to develop a cerebral thrombosis (stroke) than non-smokers. About 11% of all stroke deaths are estimated to be smoking related, with the overall relative risk of stroke in smokers being about 1.5 times that of non-smokers. Heavy smokers (consuming 20 or more cigarettes a day) have 2-4 times greater risk of stroke than non-smokers. A New Zealand study showed that passive smoking as well as active smoking significantly increased the risk of stroke in men and women.

The benefits of stopping smoking with Hypnotherapy

Whatever a person’s age, it is never too late to give up smoking. Blood is less likely to clot, and the heart can pump more blood (and therefore oxygen) around the body with less effort. Giving up smoking reduces the risk of a heart attack and is particularly important for those who have other risk factors such as high blood pressure, raised blood cholesterol levels, are overweight or diabetic. Some studies have shown that, within five years of giving up, the risk is reduced almost to that of a non-smoker. Giving up smoking after a coronary attack can halve the chance of a recurrence. Stroke risk also decreases after smoking cessation. A 12 year study of female nurses found that the elevated risk in smokers disappeared within 5 years of quitting and that the decline in risk was independent of age, highlighting that it is never too late to quit.

Hypnotherapy stops the problems of passive smoking

There is now strong evidence to show that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke can cause heart disease in non-smokers. The Government appointed Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health found a relative risk of 1.23, i.e. an excess risk of 23 per cent in non-smokers exposed to passive smoking compared to those not exposed. A major review in the USA also confirmed an increased risk of heart disease as a result of passive smoking. A more recent review of the evidence suggests that previous studies have under-estimated the risk and that exposure to secondhand smoke can increase the risk of CHD by 50% to 60%, i.e. twice previous estimates. The difference may be mainly due to earlier studies focusing on exposure to smoke in the home rather than all exposure including that at work and in public places.

A Japanese study has shown that just 30 minutes of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke by healthy non-smokers can have a substantial impact on a coronary blood flow. There is now also evidence that passive smoking is associated with increased risk of stroke in men and women.

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