We know that smoking can cause problems across multiple organs, including the heart. In fact, smokers are more prone to develop heart disease than people who do not smoke. Moreover, women who are smokers and are on birth control medications have an increased risk of developing heart disorders. Additionally, when you smoke, you do not only cause harm to your body; you harm people around you with secondhand smoke.
Affect of Smoking on Your Heart
Smoking has a detrimental impact on your body’s cardiovascular system, including your heart and blood vessels. When you smoke, the following typically happens throughout your cardiovascular system.
- Blood vessels constrict, leading to limited blood flow to your heart.
- The lining of blood vessels gets damaged, leading to the formation of fatty deposits, ultimately resulting in blocked or narrowed arteries.
- Carbon monoxide forms in the body after smoking, and it affects the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen.
- Cigarettes have nicotine in them that acts as a stimulant and increases the blood pressure and heart rate, resulting in heart rhythm becoming irregular.
- The blood cells also suffer from damage due to chemicals introduced in the body after smoking cigarettes; the cell damage leads to the easy formation of blood clots.
Cardiovascular Problems Caused by Smoking
The damage to the lining of the blood vessels and the formation of blood clots caused by smoking ultimately leads to several heart diseases and vascular conditions.
The formation of fatty deposits or plaques leads to atherosclerosis, characterized by thickened and narrowed arteries. In atherosclerosis, the blood flow to various body parts becomes disturbed.
Coronary artery disease (CAD)
In coronary artery disease, the lumen of the arteries that carries blood to the heart becomes narrowed due to plaque formation or blocked due to blood clots. Heart attack can occur due to blockage.
A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain stops due to a blocked artery.
Peripheral arterial and vascular disease (PAD)
Blood flow to the limbs becomes interrupted in peripheral arterial disease. There may be a need to amputate a limb if it is severely affected by these conditions.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm
A bulge forming in the part of the aorta present in the abdomen is termed an abdominal aortic aneurysm. When it ruptures, it can cause severe complications.
Why Should You Quit Smoking?
One of the significant risk factors for heart disease is smoking. Thus, if you are a smoker, quitting can significantly reduce your risk of being affected by heart disorders. Moreover, having less or no exposure to secondhand smoke can also benefit your heart health.
The risk of blood clots and atherosclerosis associated with smoking also decreases with time after you quit tobacco use. Furthermore, if you are already affected by heart disease, quitting makes you less susceptible to another heart attack and sudden cardiac death. If you are thinking of quitting smoking, talk to your doctor about ways to help you.