Smokeless tobacco, too, causes heart diseases, say experts
The general perception among people is that smokeless or chewing tobacco does not cause heart disease, but smoking does. But according to experts, tobacco consumed in any form is injurious to health and chewing tobacco, too, causes heart diseases.
The theme for this year’s World No Tobacco Day on May 31 is ‘Tobacco and Heart Disease’. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and partners will make people aware of the link between tobacco and cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, which combined are the world’s leading cause of death.
Dr SM Sharma, senior professor of cardiology and additional principal Sawai Man Singh Medical College, Jaipur, said that both smoke and smokeless tobacco are harmful, but saying that smokeless does not cause heart diseases is wrong.
He said, “Nicotine from smokeless tobacco directly gets absorbed in the blood and is harmful to the cardiovascular system (heart and arteries). More nicotine is absorbed by chewing tobacco compared to smoking and it increases the heart rate and blood pressure, same like smoking tobacco thus arising the risk of hypertension and coronary disease.”
According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS-2) 2016-17, in India, the use of smokeless tobacco is more than the use of smoking tobacco. Against 21.4% of all adults currently using smokeless tobacco, 10.7% of all adults use smoke tobacco.
The data shows that in Rajasthan, 14.1% of all adults currently use smokeless tobacco, while 13.2% use smoke tobacco.
Dr Amit Goyal, cancer surgeon with All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Jodhpur and Rajasthan patron for Voice of Tobacco Victims (VOTV) campaign said, “Tobacco is the single most known and preventable cause of cardiovascular death and disability in the world. Chemicals like nicotine are constrictive in nature leading to coronary problems. It is commonly known that smoking increases the risk of heart disease but the fact is that smokeless forms of tobacco are equally harmful.”
Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, professor surgical oncology from Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, said tobacco consumption, in any form, does not spare any of the body parts from its harmful effects. Even smokeless tobacco causes similar ill effects in direct or indirect forms. Apart from causing direct damage to the vessels of our body, it causes significantly increased mortality after heart attack, in people consuming smokeless tobacco.”
Sanjay Seth, Trustee Sambandh Health Foundation (SHF) said that tobacco use is estimated to cause nearly about 10% of all cardiovascular (CV) disease. Given the large burden of CV disease in India, the impact of this is huge. He added that while governments are budgeting large outlays for setting up healthcare facilities there should be a greater focus on prevention strategies, chief among them being the reduction of tobacco usage.