Most smokers don't think about heart disease when it comes to reasons they should quit; but, they should. Recent studies show they are more likely to die of heart disease than lung cancer. Nearly a third of smoking related deaths in the U.S. each year are due to cardiovascular causes.

Dr. Philp Lehman with CHI Memorial says, "When you hear about heart disease you have to worry about the impact of smoking and the impact lung disease might have on the heart, because the heart is pumping to vessels that could be impacted by smoke."

Because of a recent report on the link between smoking and heart disease, cardiologists are being urged to take a lead role when it comes to helping their patients break the habit, by taking steps like recommending smoking cessation programs and prescribing medication.

Dr. Lehman says this is something that all medical professionals should focus on.

Dr. Lehman says, "All health care professionals should have a vested interest in stopping smoking. There is essentially no negative side effect from stopping smoking."

* Within 20 minutes of quitting smoking, your blood pressure returns to normal
* Within 48 hours, damaged nerve endings have started to regrow
* Within two weeks to three months your heart attack risk has started to drop
* Within three weeks to three months your circulation has substantially improved

But to help someone stop smoking, Dr. Lehman says you first have to get to the root of why they light up in the first place.

Dr. Lehman says, "Explain or explore why people smoke. Perhaps they have a partner who smokes with them. Perhaps it is because it is a stressful situation that they use as a crutch."

Once you find out why they smoke, then help them set realistic goals.

Dr. Lehman says, "You need to help them set goals that are reasonable for them to set a quit date then move forward."

And when it comes to other options like vaping, Dr. Lehman doesn't see that as a healthier or safer alternative.

Dr. Lehman says, "I think they are fooling themselves. If we were to make a guess, 50-60 years from now when data comes out, do you think it is going to be safer than smoking? My guess is probably not."

For more information about smoking cessation programs contact CHI Memorial or click here.