Most people know that smoking is bad for your lungs and causes cancer. But few are aware of the effects of smoking on their heart. When you smoke, toxic chemicals from tobacco enter your blood stream. These chemicals send signals to your heart to beat harder and faster, causing blood vessels to constrict and forcing blood to travel through a smaller space.

Both of the effects cause high blood pressure. A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that the benefits of quitting smoking are enormous, particularly lowering the risk of heart disease by almost 50%. Besides causing lung cancer, it has been linked to bladder and prostate cancer. Stopping will improve your stamina and sense of taste and smell. Smoking also increases the risk of stroke, and women who smoke and use oral contraceptives are at a much higher risk of having a stroke than women who don’t smoke. Quitting smoking may be difficult, but it’s worth a try.

? Smoking causes 31,820 deaths from lung cancer every year in the UK, and overall results in approximately 120,000 deaths each year.

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? If you regularly smoke and drink you are more likely to get cancer of the throat than someone who doesn’t. If you do contract it you have a high chance of dying within the following five years.

? It is not only smoking cigarettes that is dangerous and puts your health at risk, cigars and pipes also increase your chances of getting cancer.

? Although lung cancer caused by smoking is the most common cancer in men and the second most common in women, smoking can also cause cancer of the throat, mouth, gullet, larynx, bladder, kidney, pancreas and stomach.

? Apart from the serious risk of cancer that you undertake when you smoke there are also other negative health implications: tar builds up on your lungs and your lung capacity is reduced, which can lead to a difficulty when breathing, and your chances of a heart attack are increased.

? The best way to reduce the risk of getting cancer whilst simultaneously improving your general health and appearance is to stop smoking.



Asthma is defined as variable obstruction or narrowing of the main breathing tubes, the bronchi, in response to a number of different insults or stimuli. The variation in the airways can occur spontaneously or as a result of treatment.


The incidence of asthma is a increasing in the UK and Europe, a trend attributed to a variety of causes. Recent surveys have suggested an incidence of asthma in children of around 1:5 and 1: 10 in adults.


The cause of asthma is described as “multifactorial”, which fact means that there are probably very many different causes including hereditary factors and no one simple way to deal with them. In some older individuals exposure to something at work can cause asthma this is termed occupational asthma. Asthma and all allergic diseases are clearly increasing. This is almost certainly linked to changes in our lifestyle,. Whether, however it is possible to reduce the risk of developing asthma in children of asthmatic or allergic parents by reducing exposure to house dust mites at home etc is not yet clear.

Obviously once an individual does develop asthma with an good history of an allergic trigger then avoidance of that agent e.g the cat is a good idea!

Signs ; Symptoms

The airway narrowing can cause a variety of symptoms from simple wheezing, where the breathing makes a musical note, to a dry non productive cough, breathlessness, or chest tightness. The symptoms are often worse a night and the first signs of asthma particularly in children can be a dry tickly cough at night and slight wheeze or tightness first thing in the morning. Exercise can often precipitate cough or wheeze or chest tightness, and in individuals with allergies exposure to the individuals specific allergens such as cats or dogs can cause wheeze and chest tightness. In occupational asthma symptoms of cough wheeze or chest tightness can occur at work and ease or completely resolve away form work at weekends or on holidays.


Most asthmatic patients are easily treated by their local general practitioner with few complications. Rarely asthma becomes harder to control and the patient may require courses of steroid tablets or admission to hospital. Some cases are always referred to hospital specialist clinics for example if an occupational cause for the condition is suspected.


Usually the diagnosis is clear from the history and examining the patient. Confirmation may be required by demonstrating allergies, by skin tests, or changes in airway capacity by breathing tests, (Peak Flow Measurement). Rarely challenge tests can be performed.


The cornerstone of treatment is regular inhaled corticosteroids. These are usually in brown or orange inhalers and come in a variety of puffers (powder, gas, automatic etc e.g. ). These must be taken regularly and are termed preventers The relief of symptoms is by inhaled bronchodilators or relievers usually in blue devices. These are usually only used if the symptoms are troublesome.

In a nutshell, avoid anything you’re allergic to and take the preventer ALWAYS.


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