ODESSA, TX (KWES) - According to the center for disease control and prevention, tobacco use remains the single-largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States.
Cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year.
"20 years in this cath lab and taking care of people with heart disease has really taught me is that smoking is absolutely the worst thing, it is the thing we hate the most for your heart," Brenda Myers, Divisional Director for Center for Heart Disease at Medical Center Hospital said.
The nicotine in cigarettes causes your arteries to constrict and this is vulnerable to a clot causing those who smoke to have higher rates of hypertension
and higher rates of abrupt heart attacks.
"Smoking is absolutely, hands down the worst thing you can do for your heart without even talking about what it does to your lungs," Myers said. "What it does to the circulation to your legs or how much it increases your risk of having a stroke and if a heart attack doesn't scare you, strokes should."
Myers said it doesn't matter how long you've smoked, you should just stop.
If you keep smoking after a heart attack, it will happen again.
"We're very honest with our patients," Myers said. "And we just tell them if you can't quit smoking, we're gonna get to know you and sadly we do have some patients that we know fairly well because there unable to quit smoking."
Quitting smoking may not be easy, but smokefree.gov suggests to make a quit plan, stay busy, avoid smoking triggers, stay positive and ask for help if you need it.
"I've had heroin attics tell me, it was easier to quit heroin then to quit smoking," Myers said. "It is not easy, but it is the one most important thing you can do to improve your health and prevent having a heart attack."
Medical Center Hospital offers a smoking cessation program to those who may need help quitting.