Smoking / Vaping

Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke affects the oxygen carrying ability of your blood. Therefore, your heart has to work harder to supply your body with adequate oxygen. Smoking also contributes to the deposit of fats in your blood vessels, causing narrowing of vessels and increased blood pressure. Smoking causes the blood vessels in your body, including those in your heart, to constrict (narrow). This will make the symptoms of your heart failure worse. It’s never too late to stop smoking, and stopping will be beneficial for your heart.

There are a number of different ways to stop smoking. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, as there are many support groups and other resources that are available to help you. You may find that not all the advice will work for you, but with a little persistence you will find a way to stop smoking.

Here are some common ways to stop:

  • Use the available products to help with the withdrawal symptoms, such as nicotine patches, gum and inhalers, ask your doctor or nurse for advice.
  • Several new medicines are also now available and may be discussed with your doctor.
  • Give up gradually, reducing the number of cigarettes you have a day, so that you have only cigarettes when your body craves, not just out of habit.
  • Brush your teeth after a meal instead of lighting a cigarette, changing the taste in your mouth sometimes helps.
  • Avoid places where smoking is permitted, such as outdoor areas in pubs and bars, in the early stages of your attempt to stop smoking. If smoking is permitted at your workplace, discuss your decision with your colleagues.
  • Find something else to do with your hands or mouth, such as playing with a paperclip, or chewing gum.
  • Get more active, exercise boosts morale and helps you relax.
  • Don’t empty your ashtray, this will show you how much you smoke and how horrid the smell of stale smoke is.
  • Involve your family, especially those who smoke – this can be key to success.

Some patients find e-cigarettes – also known as vapes – helpful when they try to stop smoking. Vaping is not completely without risk and there is some controversy concerning its safety. However, e-cigarettes carry only a small fraction of the risk of regular cigarettes. Patients with heart failure who wish to try vaping in order to stop smoking should discuss this decision with their primary care doctor or nurse. Quitting with the use of e-cigarettes is particularly effective when combined with expert support from a health care professional.

You may not experience the health benefits of stopping smoking immediately, but with time you will feel fitter and healthier in general. It’s essential that your partner is supportive and understands that it’s an important part of your lifestyle adjustment.

Further information on giving up smoking is available on the following websites:

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ESC Guidelines for Heart Failure

What patients need to know

This guide for patients from the European Society of Cardiology aims to provide an overview of the latest evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure.

In particular, it should help patients to understand the:

  • main types of heart failure
  • medicines used to treat heart failure
  • devices that may be appropriate
  • importance of rehabilitation
  • management by a multidisciplinary team
  • importance of self-care in managing your own condition

Learn more


A series of 9 simple, captivating animations explaining heart failure and its treatment.

These narrated animations explain how a healthy heart works, what happens to it in heart failure and how various treatments work to improve your health.


In this section you can watch, listen or read interviews with other people with heart failure and their caregivers.


and share your own views and experiences with other patients, families and caregivers. is a European Society of Cardiology website

The website was developed under the direction of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The ESC is a world leader in the discovery and dissemination of best practices in cardiovascular medicine. Our members and decision-makers are healthcare professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to represent professionals in the field of cardiology in Europe and beyond.

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