About 44 percent of male patients who experienced an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) — a heart attack — used to be smokers and almost 36 percent of them are still puffing away, said the Health Promotion Administration (HPA), which blamed the high smoking rate among these patients on widespread ignorance of the link between smoking and heart disease.
The health agency’s data show that heart disease has been the No. 2 cause of death in the nation for six consecutive years, claiming a total of 17,121 lives last year, almost twice the number of deaths from lung cancer last year, which stood at 8,587.
Data recorded over the past three years show that the death rate among people with heart disease has been increasing annually, making it the second-most life-threatening disease in the nation, after cancer.
Smokers are twice to seven times more likely to die from cardiovascular diseases than their nonsmoking counterparts, the agency said, adding that many people know that smoking can lead to lung cancer, but are unaware of the risk of heart attack and stroke posed by using tobacco.
The agency found that 77.8 percent of men with lung cancer are or were addicted to smoking, but while most of them quit smoking after being diagnosed — only 7.7 percent did not kick the habit — as many as 35.6 percent of male AMI patients continued to smoke after suffering a heart attack.
The agency said that a study published in medical journal The Lancet last year showed that 8.5 percent of disability-adjusted life years — the number of years lost due to illness, disability or premature death — worldwide can be attributed to smoking, including second-hand smoke, which is the highest among the world’s top 20 leading risk factors for poor health.
The agency said that quitting smoking is not only key to decreasing the risk of having another heart attack, it also reduces the likelihood that a member of the patient’s family will contract heart disease due to second-hand smoke.