1.9 mn people die from tobacco-induced heart disease every year: WHO

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New Delhi (NVI): Around 1.9 million people across the world die from tobacco-induced heart disease every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said in a news brief ahead of World Heart Day on September 29.

This equates to one in five of all deaths from heart disease, warned the report’s authors, urged all tobacco users to quit and avoid a heart attack, stressing that smokers are more likely to experience an acute cardiovascular event at a younger age than non-smokers, the WHO brief stated.

The brief was prepared in association with the World Heart Federation and the University of Newcastle Australia.

“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, then their risk of heart disease will decrease by 50 per cent after one year of not smoking,” the WHO said.

Eduardo Bianco, Chair of the World Heart Federation Tobacco Expert Group said, “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.”

According to the brief, smokeless tobacco is responsible for around 2,00,000 deaths from coronary heart disease per year while e-cigarettes also raise blood pressure increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Moreover, high blood pressure and heart disease increase the risk of severe COVID-19. A recent WHO survey found that among people dying of COVID-19 in Italy, 67 per cent had high blood pressure and in Spain, 43 per cent of people who developed coronavirus were living with heart 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 Vinayak Prasad, Unit Lead of the WHO No Tobacco Unit.

Tobacco control is a key element for reducing heart disease, however, governments can help tobacco users quit by increasing tax on tobacco products, enforcing bans on tobacco advertising and offering services to help people give up tobacco, the brief said.

-RJV