Author: Quit Victoria. Quit Victoria is a partnership between VicHealth, the State Government of Victoria and Cancer Council Victoria. For more information, visit: quit.org.au Last updated: 31 Mar, 2021

For 64 year old commercial cleaner Tony Dixon, smoking wasn’t ever something he thought would impact his heart.

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In this article you’ll find out:

  • What happened to Tony when he was driving with his 13-year-old daughter
  • Why did this happen to Tony? [video explainer about ‘sticky blood’]
  • What Tony bought with the money he saved from quitting smoking tobacco
  • Facts about smoking and your heart

Be Healthy was created by VicHealth to provide helpful tips and advice on how you and your family can stay healthy. You can read more Be Healthy articles here.

 

“The morning of my heart attack, after my first cigarette of the day, I was coughing and coughing. I bought another packet of cigarettes that same morning and they were $60 for a packet of 40. I shook my head and thought to myself: this has got to stop,” 64 year old commercial cleaner Tony Dixon said.

But it wasn’t until later that day, when he was driving down the freeway with his 13-year-old granddaughter Mikayla, that Tony had a burning sensation in his chest. He was pale and sweaty - so he decided to pull over.

“I called my daughter who said, ‘Don’t call me, call triple 0!’ I was in total denial about what was happening,” he said.

It was Tony’s granddaughter Mikayla who called the ambulance and gave the precise location information that helped save her grandfather’s life.

“The paramedics told me that if they’d been any later, I probably would have died,”  he explained.

Tony survived a further three cardiac arrests between the time the ambulance arrived and his treatment at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

 

Why did this happen to Tony?

A recent Australian study showed that risk of cardiovascular disease (such as heart attack and stroke) is almost three times higher for current smokers than those that never smoked, while new data out of the US shows that the earlier people stop smoking the lower their risk of dying from heart disease or stroke.

Ms Kellie-Ann Jolly, Victorian chief executive officer (CEO) of the Heart Foundation said it’s vital for people who smoke to know exactly how cigarette smoke affects the heart.

 

“Most people know that smoking increases the risk of developing various cancers, but relatively few people know how cigarette smoke can clot the blood, which can lead to a heart attack even for people in their 30s and 40s,” said Ms Jolly.

“There is no safe level of smoking. Even smoking only one cigarette a day or smoking occasionally significantly increases your chance of a heart attack or developing a cardiovascular condition that decreases your quality of life,” she said.

Dr Sarah White, director of Quit, said regardless of age, stopping smoking is the single best thing any person who smokes can do to improve their health.

“Quitting is possible. The best way to stop smoking is with support from Quitline (13 7848) and with stop smoking medications, like the nicotine patch and gum.”

 

sticky blood infographic - quitting reduces risk

 

Call the Quitline today or speak to your GP or visit quit.org.au,” said Dr White. “It is never too late to stop smoking.”

 

What Tony bought with the money he saved from quitting smoking tobacco

When Tony quit smoking he not only improved his health but also his bank balance.

With the money he saved from quitting smoking, Tony bought himself his prized possession - an Indian motorcycle. And he still has the untouched packet of cigarettes he bought that day, in his pocket: “It’s a reminder of everything I’ve been through.”

For more on the Sticky Blood campaign, visit quit.org.au/stickyblood

For quitting advice, visit quit.org.au or call the Quitline on 13 7848 between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday. Quitline is a culturally inclusive telephone service for all, including the LGBTIQ+ community. Aboriginal Quitline counsellors are also available.

 

 

The facts about smoking and your heart:

  • Smoking damages your heart as well as your lungs.
  • People who smoke are almost three times more likely to die from heart attack and more than twice as likely to die of stroke, compared to people who have never smoked.
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of heart disease by around 30 per cent.
  • There is no safe level of smoking. Even smoking between one and four cigarettes a day dramatically increases the risk of dying of heart disease or developing a cardiovascular condition that greatly reduces your quality of life.
  • Quitting smoking quickly reduces the risks of heart disease. When people quit smoking, there are both immediate and long-term health benefits.
  • One year after quitting smoking, the risk of a heart attack or stroke is reduced by half, and in five to 15 years, the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease returns to the level of someone who has never smoked.
  • People thinking about quitting smoking should speak with their doctor or call the Quitline on 13 7848 or visit quit.org.au.
  • Smoking damages your heart as well as your lungs.
  • People who smoke are almost three times more likely to die from heart attack and more than twice as likely to die of stroke, compared to people who have never smoked.
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of heart disease by around 30 per cent.
  • There is no safe level of smoking. Even smoking between one and four cigarettes a day dramatically increases the risk of dying of heart disease or developing a cardiovascular condition that greatly reduces your quality of life.
  • Quitting smoking quickly reduces the risks of heart disease. When people quit smoking, there are both immediate and long-term health benefits.
  • One year after quitting smoking, the risk of a heart attack or stroke is reduced by half, and in five to 15 years, the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease returns to the level of someone who has never smoked.
  • People thinking about quitting smoking should speak with their doctor or call the Quitline on 13 7848 or visit quit.org.au.