Heart Attack Rates Are Rising for Young Women— Why Quitting Smoking Might Help

Find out how smoking affects your heart and how to stop.


Heart attack rates are on the rise. An article published in National Geographic reported a climb in heart attack hospitalization rates among people ages 35 to 54, with the largest increase occurring among young women. The same article said that clinicians were often dismissive of women’s symptoms. Recent studies by the American Heart Association have also found that women are less likely to be prescribed medications that can address heart issues, leading to worse outcomes. 

But why is this happening? Women between the ages of 35 and 54 experience higher heart attack rates and deaths due to increased cardiometabolic factors like obesity and high blood pressure, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Aside from these risks, the Food and Drug Administration warns that the chemicals inhaled by smoking cigarettes can also cause heart damage. Below, we look at how smoking affects the heart and why quitting might help women avoid heart issues.

Smoking and heart health

Smoking is often linked to lung and other respiratory problems, but a Journal of the American Heart Association study found that smokers have higher risks of dying from heart disease than lung cancer. Research conducted among 100,000 adults aged 20 to 79 revealed that more than half of adult smokers aged 40 to 59 developed cardiovascular disease and incurred higher chances of dying from a fatal heart attack. This can be attributed to the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes, such as arsenic and formaldehyde, which cause a plaque buildup in the arteries that makes it difficult for blood to reach the heart, ultimately leading to heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues.

If you’re looking to quit smoking for a healthier heart, here are some tips to try:

How to effectively quit smoking

Engage in physical activities

Quitting cigarettes is no walk in the park, especially with withdrawal symptoms like intense cravings that make the journey extra difficult. A study by the National Institutes of Health affirms that engaging in physical activities like short aerobic exercises can help reduce these symptoms by offering you a healthy distraction from thinking about cigarette cravings. Our previous article Beating Stress for Heart Bliss also mentioned that physical exercises help improve blood circulation and strengthen heart muscles for improved cardiovascular health. Doing physical activities helps you manage withdrawal symptoms and boost heart health – a win-win situation for those looking to quit and stay healthy.

Opt for smokeless alternatives 

British Medical Journal research shows that women are 31% less successful when it comes to quitting smoking due to higher cigarette dependence. To help manage nicotine cravings, you can try smokeless alternatives like nicotine pouches that are placed between your lip and gum. Several brands like On!, ZYN, and Rogue offer different flavors and strengths. ZYN pouches offer a wide range of flavors like wintergreen, cool mint, and spearmint that are available in 3mg and 6mg nicotine strengths and are manufactured via advanced distillation procedures for guaranteed quality. You can also try lozenges by placing them between your gum and cheek to provide your body with 2mg or 4mg nicotine strength, with mint flavors from Perrigo lozenges to help you manage withdrawal symptoms. These alternatives allow you to gradually lower nicotine consumption until you’re able to kick the habit.

Try cognitive behavioral therapy

Talking to an expert who can intervene by helping you identify smoking triggers is also a great boost to your cessation journey. Cognitive behavioral therapy provides you with healthier coping alternatives, such as meditation and yoga, to help distract you from withdrawal symptoms. These relaxing activities are also good for the heart, as they activate your body’s “rest-and-digest” functions that lower heart rate and blood pressure, ultimately reducing risks of cardiovascular diseases.

Smoking can increase the chances of developing heart disease. With women being more susceptible to worse outcomes of cardiovascular issues, it’s important to follow these cessation tips for a healthier heart and improved quality of life.