Cardiovascular Care Settings and Smoking Cessation

At a glance

Smoking cessation improves cardiovascular health. Health care professionals, particularly those in cardiovascular care, should treat patients’ tobacco use and dependence.

Doctor reviewing an ECG with patient.

Smoking causes cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smoking is a major cause of CVD and is responsible for about 1 in every 4 U.S. deaths from CVD.

Research shows that smoking increases risk of CVD, including:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Coronary heart disease (CHD), including myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death
  • Stroke
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm

People with CHD who continue to smoke cigarettes after revascularization may have adverse clinical outcomes, including stent thrombosis. Research also shows that exposure to secondhand smoke increases risk of CHD and stroke.

Smoking and cardiovascular disease – what health care professionals need to know.

Smoking cessation improves heart health

Smoking cessation is one of the most important actions people who smoke can take to reduce their risk for CVD. This is true for all people who smoke, regardless of age or smoking duration and intensity. The health benefits also extend to patients already diagnosed with CHD.

The cardiovascular benefits of smoking cessation include:

  • Reduces markers of inflammation and hypercoagulability.
  • Leads to rapid improvement in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels.
  • Reduces the development of subclinical atherosclerosis and slows progression as time since cessation lengthens.
  • Reduces the risk of disease and death from CVD.
  • Reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, with risk falling sharply 1 to 2 years after cessation and then declining more slowly over the longer term.
  • Reduces the risk of disease and death from stroke, with risk approaching that of never smokers after cessation.
  • Reduces the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm, with risk reduction increasing with time since cessation.
  • May reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation, sudden cardiac death, heart failure, venous thromboembolism, and peripheral arterial disease.

The benefits of cessation also extend to patients with coronary heart disease:

  • Reduces the risk of all-cause mortality.
  • Reduces the risk of death due to cardiac causes and sudden death.
  • Reduces the risk of new and recurrent cardiac events.

Clinical interventions to treat tobacco use and dependence among adults‎

Resources for cardiovascular care teams