Smoking as a risk factor

Smoking is one of the risk factors for developing serious diseases. These include, for example, a heart attack or stroke.

How does smoking affect your health?

A cigarette contains 5 000 harmful substances, and 60 of those are carcinogenic. Smoking is particularly harmful in the following areas:

  • increases the risk of blood clots
  • disrupts platelets' function
  • increases the number of white blood cells
  • reactive oxygen species are being produced and further damage the surface of blood vessels

Every fifth death is caused by smoking in Europe. Diseases caused by smoking take 18 000 lives in the Czech Republic every year.

What happens to your body when you light a cigarette?

  • even within the first few minutes only being in a space with smoke, changes are apparent on the vessel layer - endothelium
  • blood pressure rises and stays high even 30 minutes after smoking - up to 20 mmHg
  • heart contractions are intense, pulse is elevated
  • hormone levels rise
  • blood vessels are narrowing

What are the effects of smoking?

  • Lungs - increases the risk of lung cancer, disrupts lungs' self-cleaning ability, coughing
  • Blood vessels, heart, and the brain - speeds up atherosclerosis which might later lead to heart attack or stroke
  • Skin, hair, teeth, breath - speeds up ageing and wrinkling
  • Fertility - increases the possibility of miscarriage or birth defects, smokers' new-borns are less immune to illnesses and addictions
  • Digestive tract - worsens digestion, risk of pancreatic cancer
  • Cancer - smoking is inseparably connected to lung, oral cavity, pancreatic, cervical, kidney, bladder, bowel, or anal cancer

Heart attacks have dropped by 10-20 % in countries that banned smoking in public places.

How to quit smoking?

  • Get advice from your general practitioner (GP).
  • Visit a smoking cessation centre.
  • Learn if your insurance company pays for such treatment.
  • Pick a day and start your journey.
  • Change your routine, habits, and find new hobbies.
  • Avoid situations in which you'd normally light a cigarette.
  • Don't hesitate to use nicotine sprays, chewing gums, pastilles or patches.


What to do when...

5 important steps to do when you have or see someone else having a heart attack or stroke.

  • Don't panic, don't look for advice on the internet and start acting!
  • Call 155 for help!
  • Stay where you are and wait for an ambulance
  • Is the patient conscious? Shoothe him/her. Check breathing and reactions (talk, pinch the patient's ear)
  • Is the patient unconscious? Check breathing - tilt the patient's head back and see, if the chest is moving up and down. If the patient is not breathing, start chest compressions immediately!

What happens if you quit smoking?

  • 20 minutes: pulse and blood pressure goes back to normal
  • 24 hours: carbon monoxide is leaving the body, lungs' self-cleaning ability is restored
  • 48 hours: nicotine left the body, taste and smell gets progressively better
  • 1 year: risk of heart attack drops by half
  • 10 years: risk of lung cancer drops by half

How many smokers are there in the Czech Republic?

The number of smokers decreased in the Czech Republic. In 2017, approximately 2,4 million Czechs smoked every day. In 2019 the number dropped to 2 million.

A cigarette contains 5 000 harmful substances, and 60 of those are carcinogenic.