Negative Effects of Smoking on Heart and Blood Vessels

Smoking accounts for 5 million deaths annually worldwide and is a cause of death that can be prevented. We spend millions trying to find cures for diseases, yet many people can’t quit smoking, improve their health, and save their own money.

This article explains how smoking affects our hearts and blood vessels.

Increases Risk of Developing Atherosclerosis

Cigarette smokers have increased levels of fibrinogen – a glycoprotein that assists in blood clot formation. They also have an increase in platelet counts, making the blood stickier.

Smoking also greatly contributes to the rise of the bad levels of cholesterol – LDL cholesterol – while lowering your good HDL cholesterol levels.

The chemicals released by smoking irritate your blood vessels causing inflammation which leads to damage and stiffening of your blood vessel walls. Inflammation is also a major cause of heart attack and stroke.

Any one of the above can cause problems, and the combined effects magnify the risk of suffering from atherosclerosis.

Coronary Heart Disease

Every cigarette inhaled causes an immediate response in your blood vessels and heart. Within one minute of inhalation, your heart rate beats faster and may increase up to 30% over a period of ten minutes.

As you continue to smoke, your blood vessels continue to constrict, thereby raising your blood pressure and causing cardiac stress. Carbon monoxide attaches easily to hemoglobin, thereby adversely affecting the ability of blood to deliver oxygen to all tissues in the body.

This causes your heart difficulty in delivering oxygen to other parts of your body, and in an effort to overcome this, the heart beats faster and blood pressure is raised.

Cigarettes contain chemicals that cause damage to the lining of your heart’s arteries and as such, your coronary health is affected with every cigarette smoked.

Higher Risk of Ruptured Aneurysm Causing Death

An aneurysm is the ballooning of the artery wall. This swelling increases the likelihood of clotting and bursting, which increases a smoker’s risk of dying from a ruptured aneurysm.

There may be no warning signs or symptoms and a ruptured aneurysm can be fatal. If not fatal, it can cause a stroke.

Risk of Suffering Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

Since smoking increases blood clotting, it’s no surprise that smokers are at a higher risk of suffering from PVD – Peripheral Vascular Disease.

Smokers who ignore the early symptoms of blocked vessels in the feet or legs may eventually develop gangrene. Any individual who has already undergone surgery for PVD can almost certainly expect a relapse of their condition. Unfortunately, it can lead to amputation or even death.

Thromboangiitis Obliterans is a form of PVD, and although this condition is rare, it is a disease that affects heavy smokers. It starts with an inflammatory condition in the small blood vessels, which leads to a blockage of the arteries. Research shows that very few people affected with this condition are able to prevent the occurrence of gangrene and most require multiple amputations.

Stop Smoking Now

These negative effects of smoking on the heart and blood vessels can be avoided if the habit is stopped. It may not be an easy endeavor but there are plenty of programs available to help quit smoking.

After ten years of not smoking, your risk of dying from heart disease will be the same as that of a non-smoker. It will be as if you never smoked at all, so for your future health, it’s worth quitting today.

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