Young smokers are eight times more likely to have a major heart attack compared to non-smokers, said a senior official of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC). Dr Ahmad al-Mulla, head of HMC’s Tobacco Control Center, is warning about the link between smoking and premature heart disease in young people.
According to Dr al-Mulla, HMC’s Tobacco Control Center receives a number of referrals each month from the Heart Hospital for patients under the age of 40 who have blood clots and blockages in their arteries. He says smoking is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, a condition in which plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries.
Coronary heart disease occurs when arteries that carry blood to the heart muscle are narrowed by plaque or blocked by clots. Chemicals in cigarette smoke cause the blood to thicken and form clots inside veins and arteries and blockage from a clot can lead to a heart attack and sudden death.
Dr Jamal Abdullah, a smoking cessation specialist at HMC, says all patients who seek the services of the Tobacco Control Center undergo a full assessment, including a complete medical history and related evaluations. As part of the assessment, clinicians talk to patients about available treatment options and caution them about the impact smoking has on their health and the importance of quitting. He says in addition to smoking cigarettes, popular forms of tobacco use among young people in Qatar include electronic cigarettes, chewing tobacco (Swedish Snus), and a tobacco product mixed with aromatic leaf and bark herbs (Midwakh or Dokha).
While smoking is a leading cause of heart attacks and heart disease, many of these heart risks can be reversed simply by quitting smoking. The Tobacco Control Center is continuing to receive a large number of requests from new patients wanting to quit, indicating a desire among much of the public to stop smoking and to protect their health from the adverse effects of tobacco use.