Smoking is killing 17 Australians every day through preventable heart attacks and other cardiovascular conditions, a study has found.
The most in-depth study of its kind by a team from Australian National University (ANU) found that smokers have triple the risk of dying from cardiovascular risk and double the risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke or heart failure.
The research team, led by Emily Banks from ANU’s National Center for Epidemiology and Population Health, tracked 190,000 Australian smokers and non-smokers for 36 different types of cardiovascular disease over seven years.
They found that smoking causes more than 6,400 preventable deaths from cardiovascular diseases alone every year.
“That includes investigating the risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, heart muscle disease, rhythm problems, and gangrene in Australians from every walk of life: men, women, city, country, rich, poor,” she said in a media release on Thursday.
“We found there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Smoking causes terrible harm across the board.”
Smoking is also responsible for 11,4000 coronary heart hospitalizations per year – the equivalent of 31 per day.
“There are around 2.7 million smokers in Australia today,” Banks said.
“If a smoker has a heart attack or a stroke, it is more likely than not that it was caused by smoking.”
According to the study, people who smoke as few as five cigarettes per day have twice the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease; a finding that Banks described as “extremely alarming.”
However, it did find that quitting smoking significantly reduces a person’s risk of heart attacks and stroke.
“Quitting at any age provides a whole host of health and other benefits and quitting by age 45 avoids about 90 per cent of the cardiovascular risks of smoking,” Sarah White, Director of Quit Victoria, said.
“And if you are a light or social smoker who thinks ‘just a few’ won’t hurt, this study really shows you’re kidding yourself that it’s not doing damage.”