Cardiovascular disease claims 800,000 U.S. lives annually, and covers a host of disorders of the heart and blood vessels that occur when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. From there, blood clots can form and lead to heart attack or stroke.
A new ad in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) successful Tips from Former Smokers Campaign is helping to raise awareness of the link the between smoking and CVD. The ad features Brian, an Air Force veteran who suffered from heart failure due to smoking and needed a heart transplant as a result. The powerful ad, part of a series of four, will air between now and June.
“There are so many like Brian who struggle with the addition of smoking. We can no longer sit in silence and watch our loved ones suffer,” said Patricia Anderson-Wilson, a member of the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Poverty Network (WTPPN). “Brian is a hero not only because he serves our country but also because he cared enough to share his story.”
Smoking causes one of every three CVD deaths, so individuals can reduce their CVD risk by quitting tobacco use or never starting in the first place. Just one year after quitting, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker. Veterans such as Brian are especially at risk if they are living in poverty. There are as an estimated 1.4 million veterans living in poverty in the United States and there is a strong correlation between poverty and smoking.
The coalition also shared other things individuals can do to improve their heart health, including getting 30 minutes of exercise on most days, eating more fruits and vegetables, reducing sodium intake, and getting their blood pressure and Cholesterol checked by their physician.
Brian’s ad can be viewed at http://youtube.com/watch?v=WFPbXxU8Gwc. For more on local tobacco prevention efforts, visit https://www.facebook.com/WiTPPN/. Tobacco users can receive free help by calling the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT NOW.