I am
Smoking and your heart
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Smoking and your heart

Understand how smoking can impact your heart health.

Key takeaways

  • Smoking affects the vessels that supply blood to your heart and other parts of your body. 
  • Smokers not only have more heart attacks, strokes and angina than non-smokers, but also at a much younger age.
2 min read

What smoking does to your heart

Smoking affects the vessels that supply blood to your heart and other parts of your body. It reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and damages blood vessel walls.

Smoking contributes to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs when there is narrowing and clogging of the arteries which reduces blood supply, and the amount of oxygen available, throughout the body.

Increased heart disease risk

Smoking also increases the stiffness of the blood vessels making it harder for them to expand and contract as needed and more likely to split. These changes to the arteries can cause a heart attack, stroke or angina.

Smokers not only have more heart attacks, strokes and angina than non-smokers, but also at a much younger age.

Smoking increases the risk of:
  • Heart attack – 2x higher
  • Stroke – 3x higher
  • Peripheral arterial disease – 5x higher
If you smoke, you are:

Four times more likely to die of heart disease (i.e. heart attack and stroke) and three times more likely to die from sudden cardiac death.

Second-hand smoke

Second-hand smoke can cause heart disease in non-smokers. Breathing in second-hand smoke damages your arteries. Platelets in your blood can get sticky and may form clots, just like in a person who smokes.
If you already have heart disease, you are at greater risk from exposure to second-hand smoke than people who don't.

Quitting

If you are a smoker and are ready to quit, thinking about quitting, or want to help someone else to quit, talk to your doctor or health practitioner about giving up smoking.

Or call the Quitline on 13 7848 or visit the Quit website.

Keep trying 

Many people slip up after they quit and start smoking again. 

Don’t see this as a failure. Instead, think about what made you smoke again. How can you deal with this situation next time? 

What worked and what didn’t work? Learn from this and try quitting again. You become better at quitting each time you try.

Benefits of quitting

One year after quitting, your risk of a heart attack or stroke is reduced by half.  In 5 to 15 years, your risk of stroke and coronary heart disease returns to that of someone who has never smoked.   

Use the quit smoking action plan designed to help heart attack survivors. 

E-cigarettes

We do not support the use of e-cigarettes. Research on their safety indicates there are risks for heart health and the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in helping people to quit smoking has not been proven.

Sticky Blood campaign



Sticky Blood TVC courtesy of Quit Victoria




Associate Professor Nick Cox, Director of Cardiology at Western Health and Heart Foundation spokesperson discusses the impact of smoking on heart health and the real-life consequences he sees every day.
(Video courtesy of Quit Victoria)

You might also be interested in

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril suffered a heart attack in 2015. Cardiac rehab helped get his life back on track. ...

What's your BMI?

What's your BMI?

What's your BMI?

Are you within a healthy weight range for your height?...

Cholesterol and triglycerides action plan

Cholesterol and triglycerides action plan

Key steps that can help you manage your cholesterol and triglyceride levels....

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

There is no single cause for any one heart condition, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing one. ...

Kylie defied the heart attack stereotypes

Kylie defied the heart attack stereotypes

Kylie defied the heart attack stereotypes

Cardiac rehabilitation was a turning point for Kylie and essential to her heart failure recovery....

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Could you be at risk of heart disease? Get your estimated heart age now....

Blood pressure and your heart

Blood pressure and your heart

Blood pressure and your heart

Understand blood pressure and how it can impact your heart health....

Norm discovered he was at risk of a major heart attack just in the nick of time

Norm discovered he was at risk of a major heart attack just in the nick of time

Norm discovered he was at risk of a major heart attack just in the nick of time

Norm didn’t worry too much about his cholesterol problem – until an angiogram revealed he had an 80 per cent blockage in a major heart artery. ...

Quit smoking action plan

Quit smoking action plan

Blood cholesterol

Blood cholesterol

Blood cholesterol

Keeping your blood cholesterol at a healthy level can help you reduce your risk of heart disease and other serious conditions. ...

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Research Directory

Research Directory

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

And the heartache lasts a lifetime. But you can help the Heart Foundation fund life-saving research to keep more families together....

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Information to help you adjust to what could be the 'new normal'...

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join our community of fundraisers who are committed to taking action to fight heart disease....

Heart health information in your language

Heart health information in your language

A selection of heart health information brochures in a range languages...

Coronary Angiogram Test

Coronary Angiogram Test

This is a common test done to find out angina symptoms, or during or after a heart attack. ...

Hypertension clinical information and guidelines

Hypertension clinical information and guidelines

Clinical information for diagnosis and management of hypertension....

Breakfast tacos

Breakfast tacos

Breakfast tacos

5 minutes
Serves 1

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment and management

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment and management

Absolute CVD risk assessment is an integrated approach that estimates the cumulative risk of multiple risk factors to predict a heart attack or stroke event in the next five years....

What is coronary heart disease?

What is coronary heart disease?

What is coronary heart disease?

Coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease occurs when a coronary artery clogs and narrows because of a buildup of plaque....

Snack recipes

Snack recipes

Snack recipes

Search for healthy snack ideas...

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

30 minutes
Serves 8

Smart Heart Guidelines App

Smart Heart Guidelines App

Access to Australian heart disease guidelines is now free at your fingertips...

David’s shock heart failure diagnosis was just the start of a tough journey

David’s shock heart failure diagnosis was just the start of a tough journey

David’s shock heart failure diagnosis was just the start of a tough journey

David's heart failure diagnosis led to significant changes in his life....

9 food and heart health myths, busted

9 food and heart health myths, busted

9 food and heart health myths, busted

Let’s dive into nine common food and health myths and the facts behind them....

What is angina?

What is angina?

What is angina?

Angina is a type of chest pain or discomfort that’s a symptom of an underlying heart problem, usually coronary heart disease (CHD)....

Raffles & Lotteries

Raffles & Lotteries

Raffles & Lotteries

Give yourself a chance to win $20,000 while helping the Heart Foundation to raise essential funds for heart research....

Lipid management clinical information and resources

Lipid management clinical information and resources

Lipid management resources for health professionals...

Breakfast recipes

Breakfast recipes

Breakfast recipes

Heart healthy breakfasts to start your day right...

For professionals: Heart failure tools and resources

For professionals: Heart failure tools and resources

Resources for healthcare professionals on the management of patients with heart failure ...

What is heart valve disease?

What is heart valve disease?

What is heart valve disease?

Heart valve disease means that your heart valve or valves don't open or close properly....

Seafood recipes

Seafood recipes

Seafood recipes

Find heart healthy seafood recipes...

WEBINAR | Absolute CVD risk assessment practical update

WEBINAR | Absolute CVD risk assessment practical update

A multidisciplinary panel of experts discuss the practical application of absolute CVD risk assessment through Heart Health Checks....

Healthy chicken fajitas

Healthy chicken fajitas

20 minutes
Serves 4

Reading food labels

Reading food labels

Reading food labels

Nutrition information panels and ingredients lists are a good way of comparing similar foods so you can choose the healthiest option....

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

Heart Safe Community

Heart Safe Community

Heart Safe Community

Heart Safe Community is a program that aims to increase a person’s chance of survival if they suffer a cardiac arrest outside of hospital. ...

Stay informed about COVID-19

Stay informed about COVID-19

Stay informed about COVID-19

If you have heart disease, you are more vulnerable to severe complications....

Kid-friendly lentil stew

Kid-friendly lentil stew

30 minutes
Serves 4