World No Tobacco Day 2024: Protecting Children and Combatting Tobacco's Impact on Heart Health

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World No Tobacco Day, celebrated annually on May 31st, serves to educate the public about the perils of tobacco use. The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2024, "Protecting Children From Tobacco Industry Interference," focuses on shielding young people and calls for the tobacco industry to cease targeting youth with harmful products. The World Health Organization (WHO) established this day in 1987 to combat tobacco-related deaths and diseases.

Tobacco is a leading cause of death, killing over 8 million people globally each year. This figure includes approximately 1.3 million non-smokers who die from exposure to second-hand smoke. Tobacco use can lead to numerous severe health conditions, from lung cancer to reproductive issues. On World No Tobacco Day 2024, let’s explore the detrimental effects of tobacco on cardiovascular health.

The Impact of Tobacco on Heart Health

Tobacco use significantly increases the risk of heart disease by restricting blood and oxygen flow to the heart through the narrowing of arteries.

"Tobacco smoke contains toxic compounds that pose a serious threat to your cardiovascular system. Nicotine and carbon monoxide are two major culprits affecting the heart and blood circulation," explains Dr. Pratibha Dogra, Senior Consultant in Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine at Marengo Asia Hospital, Gurugram.

Dr. Dogra adds, "Smoking contributes to atherosclerosis, raises blood pressure, and heightens the risk of major cardiovascular diseases, such as peripheral artery disease and heart attacks. These impacts are widespread across the heart and blood vessels. Reducing tobacco use is crucial for maintaining cardiovascular health and preventing these severe conditions."

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and Smoking

In addition to other risk factors like diabetes, lack of physical activity, hypertension, and poor cholesterol levels, smoking is a significant cause of peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

"Smoking is linked to peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a condition where plaque builds up in the arteries of the limbs. This reduces blood flow to the extremities, causing pain, numbness, and a higher risk of infections and ulcers," Dr. Dogra notes.

Understanding the serious consequences of tobacco use, particularly on heart health, underscores the importance of initiatives like World No Tobacco Day. This day encourages everyone to recognize the health risks associated with tobacco and supports efforts to reduce tobacco consumption globally.

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