How Does Smoking Increase Heart Disease?

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Cigarette smoke is one of the primary causes of heart disease in the United States, and it is particularly risky when it is present in combination with other risk factors. Find out how the odds of getting heart disease increase by smoking with help from a pulmonary disease research expert in this free video on the effects of smoking.

Part of the Video Series: Effects of Smoking
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Video Transcript

Hello, I am Dr. David Burns, I'm a professor emeritus at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. Cigarette smoking is one of the principal causes of heart disease in the United States. In addition to cigarette smoking, elevated blood pressure and an elevated serum lipids like cholesterol, also increase your risk of developing heart disease. Having diabetes is another major risk factor for heart disease. With cigarette smoking and the other risk factors, one of the problems that we face is that they're not independent of one another. If you have one risk factor, you just about double your risk of having disease. So your risk is now twice what it would be without those risk factors. But if you have two, if you smoke and have high blood pressure, your risk doubles again, goes to four. And if you have three risk factors, then the risk goes up to eight. So every time you add a new risk factor, you multiply the level of cardiovascular risk by two. And that is a dramatic increase in the chances that you're going to have heart disease because heart disease is one of the most common diseases currently in the United States for the population over the age of 50.


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