Living with coronary heart disease? Quitting smoking is key!

The Bottom Line

  • Worldwide, over one billion people use tobacco, a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs)— such as coronary heart disease.
  • Annually, nearly two million people die from heart disease that stems from tobacco use.
  • In people with coronary heart disease, quitting smoking can help reduce the risk of experiencing additional cardiovascular events and dying from CVD.
  • Ready to quit? Lean on your healthcare team for assistance with finding support tools and developing a quit plan that works for you. 

Tobacco use significantly increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), such as heart attack, stroke, and coronary heart disease (1). Globally, almost two million people die from heart disease brought on by tobacco use each year (2). This means that one in every five-heart disease-related deaths can be traced back to tobacco use. 

Unfortunately, over one billion people across the globe continue to use tobacco, with cigarette smoking being the most widespread method (3). This number includes those who have experienced a cardiovascular event or are living with CVD (4-7). These individuals are at an even higher risk for negative health outcomes with continued smoking. There is an opportunity to communicate the benefits of quitting smoking to those with CVD who continue to smoke. Let us look to a systematic review assessing the effects of quitting on reoccurring cardiovascular events and death from CVD in people with coronary heart disease to help lay out the evidence (4).

What the research tells us

The review provides compelling evidence for people living with coronary heart disease to quit smoking. 

Specifically, those who quit smoking can reduce their risk of future cardiovascular events and death from cardiovascular disease by about one-third, compared to those who continue to smoke. What is more, they may see similar reductions in their risk of death from all causes, non‐fatal heart attacks, and non‐fatal strokes. Quality of life may also potentially improve. The certainty in the results ranges from low to moderate, meaning more research is needed to enhance the evidence base (4).

Quitting smoking can be challenging. But you do not have to face this journey alone. Whether you have coronary heart disease or not, if you would like to quit, reach out to your healthcare team for information on available supports that you can lean on. Nicotine replacement therapy, helplines, and peer support are just a few of the options you can discuss. Together, you can develop a quit plan that works for you.

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Author Details


  1. World Health Organization. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). [Internet] 2021. [cited May 2023]. Available from
  2. World Health Organization. Tobacco responsible for 20% of deaths from coronary heart disease. [Internet] 2020. [cited May 2023]. Available from
  3. World Health Organization. Tobacco. [Internet] 2022. [cited May 2023]. Available from
  4. Wu AD, Lindson N, Hartmann-Boyce J, et al. Smoking cessation for secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2022; 8:CD014936. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD014936.pub2.
  5. Farley A, Koshiaris C, Oke J, et al. Physician support of smoking cessation after diagnosis of lung, bladder, or upper aerodigestive tract cancer. Annals of Family Medicine. 2017; 15(5):443-450.
  6. Choi YJ, Park JS, Kim U, et al. Changes in smoking behavior and adherence to preventive guidelines among smokers after a heart attack. Journal of Geriatric Cardiology. 2013; 10(2):146-150.
  7. Rallidis LS, Hamodraka ES, Foulidis VO, et al. Persistent smokers after myocardial infarction: A group that requires special attention. International Journal of Cardiology. 2005; 100(2):241-245.

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