New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) Hypertension and tobacco are the top most causes of premature mortality and people consuming tobacco in any form are at high risk of many diseases, as nicotine is solely responsible for constricted arteries, heart failure, inflammation, many types of cancers, blindness, and gangrene, while it also complicates existing hypertension.
The above was mentioned by noted interventional Cardiologist Dr. (Prof) (Col.) Shekhar Kashyap while speaking at a webinar on 'Hypertension, COVID-19 and Tobacco – A Deadly Triad'.
Kashyap is the former Head of Department (Cardiology), Army's Research & Referral Hospital in New Delhi.
"Although the tobacco lobby promotes that nicotine does not cause hypertension, it affects all the organ systems. Tobacco consumption in any form be it cigarettes, chewable, and nicotine gum, causes increase in blood pressure and elevates the heart rates. Nicotine cessation can help immediately. Within 20 minutes of cessation, blood pressure returns to normal and 15 years of cessation eliminates all hazards of smoking," added Kashyap.
Hypertension is the most widely prevalent vascular disease among the low and middle income group countries.
It is also one of the biggest causes of premature deaths in the world.
Today, one in every four men and one in every five women today are suffering from hypertension.
"Those who consume tobacco have poorly controlled hypertension. It is a myth that smokeless tobacco or non-combustible tobacco has no ill-effects. There are ample studies to prove that these cause many diseases," Kashyap said, adding that tobacco blunts the effects of medicines taken to stabilise blood pressure.
Kashyap said persons with cardiometabolic factors face a higher risk of severe Covid-19 condition along with complications and mortality.
Chewing tobacco can increase the risk of Covid-19 as the person does not wear a mark, the hand to mouth contact increases, salivating and spitting puts others at risk, and sitting together to drink and smoke leaves no room for social distancing, thereby increasing the risk of spreading the infection.
"To counter the threat of Covid-19, it is imperative to combat the misinformation campaigns. The studies that purportedly claim consumption of alcohol or smoking can prevent Covid-19, may be manipulated and, therefore, as a vigilant society, there needs to be a high index of suspicion around such studies, he added.
Kashyap advised that people should rely on information and guidelines from credible sources such as the WHO, US CDC, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and ICMR.
He said that there is a lot of ground that needs to be covered, which can begin with sensitising kids at the kindergarten level about the harmful effects of tobacco on our health.
Further, surrogate advertisements promoting the use of tobacco in any form should not be allowed in the vicinity of schools or other educational institutions.