Doctors in Taiwan urge young people to quit smoking to reduce heart attack risk

Smoking accounts for 17% of cardiovascular-related deaths in Taiwan

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(By Wikimedia Commons)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A leading cardiologist in Taiwan has warned young people to quit smoking in order to reduce the risk of having a heart attack.

Associate Dean and attending physician at Mackay Memorial Hospital Hung-I Yeh (葉宏一) said smoking is the leading contributing factor to myocardial infarction in young people. 70 percent of those under 45 admitted to hospital after a heart attack said they smoke regularly.

Heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and conditions associated with high blood pressure are three of the top 10 causes of death among Taiwanese people, to all of which smokers face an increased risk. Smoking is said to account for 17 percent of all cardiovascular-related deaths.

Yeh said that while smoking can also cause lung disease and cancer as tissue damage accumulates over a number of years, cardiovascular damage is much more rapid and immediate. Nicotine causes inflammation in the body, he commented, and tobacco smoke also causes coagulation—thick blood which renders individuals more prone to thrombosis.

He added that smoking can also make individuals more prone to sexual dysfunction.

Due to the advanced nature of healthcare in Taiwan, Yeh said, the mortality rate of those inflicted with cardiovascular disease is less than 10%, however the country is exhibiting a trend where more and more young people are contracting cardiovascular diseases each year. The most obvious key to prevention is to quit smoking, he added.

Director of the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Health Promotion Administration, Ying-wei Wang (王英偉), said smokers risk contracting heart disease over five years earlier than non-smokers. For those who smoke over one packet a day, disease can hit up to 7 years earlier. The earlier you quit, the easier it is to decrease your risk, Wang added.

The director of Mackay Memorial Hospital’s cardiology department said the risk of myocardial infarction in middle-aged people has increased by 30 percent in recent years, adding that he always encourages patients to quit smoking while treating them.

Staff from 12 medical centers and eight regional hospitals participated in an award ceremony today for helping over 500 people in just four months to receive services to help them quit smoking.