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Surprising Heart Health Risks of 1 Cigarette a Day

Knowing about our health risks can help us take important steps toward reducing them. We know eating empty calories and living a sedentary life are big health risks. We also know we can reduce these risks by eating less junk food and spending less time on the couch.

Another well-known health risk is smoking. It increases the risks for conditions such as stroke and heart disease — the No. 1 cause of death in America.

Can smoking less reduce your risks for developing heart disease or stroke? A major new study found the answer.

You might think that the risks from smoking one cigarette per day would be a lot less than the risk of smoking 20 per day. Here’s what the study found:

  • Men who smoke just one cigarette per day still have 46% of the risk for heart disease of 20-cigarette per day smokers.
  • Women who smoke one cigarette per day still have 31% of the heart disease risk of 20-cigarette per day smokers.

The study also researched the risk for stroke from one cigarette per day compared to 20. The proportions are similar to heart disease risks — 41% of the risk for men and 34% for women.


It’s Not Too Late for Heart Health

Whether you’re a light smoker, heavy smoker or have never smoked, heart disease remains a serious health risk. One in four deaths in the U.S. results from heart disease.

You can turn around your heart health by making some lifestyle improvements:

If after making these lifestyle changes, you still need help with heart health, your health care clinician may refer you to a cardiologist — a heart specialist.

A wealth of innovative heart treatments are available to help address heart disease and heart failure. Many treatments can help you return to a fulfilling lifestyle.

Your heart health turnaround can start with a phone call to your clinician or cardiologist. If you need help in finding a doctor, just check our Find a Doctor page online.

If you have a significant diagnosis like heart disease, you’re welcome to get a second opinion. It’s important that you’re comfortable with the information you have to make some important decisions. We have a short online form you can fill out to start the second-opinion process. We’re happy to help. 

Meet the Author

Kenneth J. Phillips, MD is a cardiologist at Aurora Health Center in Grafton. 

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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