Guadagnare Salute

Epidemiologia e prevenzione delle malattie cerebro e cardiovascolari


Prevention and lifestyle


Giving up smoking…


Giving up smoking is the most important thing a smoker can do to live longer; it is never to late to quit and the benefits become immediately apparent.

  • after one year the risk of cardiovascular disease is halved
  • after a few years the risk of developing a smoking-related cardiovascular disease completely disappears.

Ten tips to give up smoking

  1. be determined to quit
  2. set a favourable date to stop
  3. be willing to persist in striving for your objective, without feeling disappointed if you don’t succeed on the first attempt
  4. remember that initial stress is normal and fades away with time
  5. change your routine: eat lighter and better-balanced meals, drink more water and less coffee and alcohol, do physical activity regularly
  6. keep busy and try to think about cigarettes as seldom as possible
  7. do not use a moment of discomfort or good news as the excuse to smoke “just one cigarette”
  8. avoid, especially at the beginning, any situation which might tempt you to smoke
  9. give yourself an occasional reward, for example using the money you have saved to buy something special
  10. quit completely.

Smoking is the second most important risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

  • There is eight years difference in life expectancy between smokers and non-smokers
  • smokers are twice as likely to experience myocardial infarction compared to non-smokers
  • smokers are ten times more likely to suffer from lung cancer than non-smokers.

Two chemical substances found in cigarettes have harmful effects on heart: nicotine and carbon monoxide. Nicotine stimulates the body to produce adrenalin which makes heart beat faster, thus forcing the heart to work harder. Moreover it favours the formation of blood clots (thrombosis). Carbon monoxide reduces delivery of oxygen to organs and tissues of the body.


The negative effects of smoking are not only related to cardiovascular disease. Smoking:

  • damages the arteries, favouring the development of cardiovascular disease such as myocardial infarction and stroke
  • causes lung cancer
  • favours cancer of the larynx, mouth, pancreas, bladder, kidneys, cervix, oesophagus, stomach and intestine
  • is the main cause of chronic bronchitis and emphysema
  • accelerates heart beat
  • leaves you short of breath
  • causes skin ageing and favours the development of wrinkles
  • gives you bad breath, yellowish teeth and fingers and causes the typical smoker’s cough.

© Istituto Superiore di Sanita (ISS)