Smoking is one of the major risk factors that increase the chances of heart diseases. According to studies, smoking causes one in four deaths related to heart diseases.
Apart from coronary heart disease and stroke, smoking is also responsible for many other health problems, including lung, throat, and mouth cancer. In this article, we will explore the connection between smoking and heart diseases, along with the consequences of smoking on the cardiovascular system.
How Smoking Affects the Heart?
When you inhale smoke from a cigarette, it damages your blood vessels, making them narrow or constricted. The smoke contains harmful chemicals that interfere with the blood flow, making it harder for the heart to pump blood effectively. Furthermore, smoking also spikes the blood pressure levels, putting excess stress on the heart muscle, making it work harder and increasing the chances of developing heart diseases.
Smoking and Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis refers to the build-up of plaque in your arteries, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. Smoking is a leading cause of atherosclerosis, as the harmful chemicals in smoke contribute to the formation of plaque in your arteries. The plaque build-up can cause the arteries to become narrower, reducing the blood flow to the heart, and increasing the chances of heart disease.
Smoking and Clotting
Smoking increases the likelihood of blood clots, which can also lead to a heart attack or stroke. When plaque builds up in the arteries, the blood flow becomes sluggish, leading to blood clots. Smoking has a similar effect on the blood, increasing the chance of clots forming and increasing the risk of heart disease.
Smoking and Aortic Aneurysms
An aortic aneurysm is a condition in which the walls of the aorta weaken and bulge. Smoking is a leading cause of aortic aneurysms, as it weakens and damages the arteries, making them more prone to aneurysms. Aortic aneurysms can be life-threatening, as they can burst and cause severe internal bleeding.
Consequences of Smoking on the Cardiovascular System
Smoking can have serious consequences on the cardiovascular system, leading to various complications.
Increased Blood Pressure
Smoking spikes the blood pressure levels, putting extra stress on the heart and increasing the chances of heart diseases.
Reduced Oxygen Supply to the Heart
Smoking reduces the oxygen supply to the heart, which can cause chest pain or angina. Reduced oxygen supply can also damage the heart muscle, leading to heart attack or heart failure.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Smoking increases the risk of Peripheral Artery Disease, which is a condition in which the arteries that supply blood to the arms and legs narrow, reducing the blood flow to the tissues. PAD can cause pain, numbness, and cramps in the legs, and in severe cases, can lead to gangrene or amputations.
Smoking increases the risk of Arrhythmia, which is a condition in which the heart beats irregularly or too fast or too slow. Arrhythmia can disrupt the blood flow, leading to heart disease or stroke.
Benefits of Quitting Smoking
Quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of heart diseases and can also decrease the chances of developing other health complications. Here are some benefits of quitting smoking:
Reduced Blood Pressure
Quitting smoking can lower blood pressure levels, reducing the chances of heart disease.
Quitting smoking can improve the blood flow to the heart and other organs, making them work more effectively.
Lower Risk of Atherosclerosis
Quitting smoking can reduce the formation of plaque in the arteries, reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Lower Risk of Peripheral Arterial Disease
Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of Peripheral Arterial Disease, improving the blood flow to the peripheral tissues.
The Bottom Line
Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease, and it can have serious consequences on the cardiovascular system. Quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of heart diseases and can also decrease the chances of developing other health complications. If you are a smoker, the best thing you can do for your health is to quit smoking today.
FAQs About Smoking and Heart Disease
Here are some frequently asked questions about smoking and heart disease:
Can smoking increase the risk of heart attacks?
Yes, smoking is a leading cause of heart attacks. The harmful chemicals in smoke damage the blood vessels, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis and blood clots, which can cause heart attacks.
How long does it take to reduce the risk of heart disease after quitting smoking?
Quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease within a few years. Within two years of quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease decreases significantly, and within ten years, the risk of lung cancer reduces to half.
Can secondhand smoke cause heart disease?
Yes, secondhand smoke is harmful and can increase the risk of heart disease in nonsmokers. The chemicals in the smoke can interfere with the blood flow and damage the blood vessels, increasing the chances of heart diseases.
Do e-cigarettes increase the risk of heart disease?
E-cigarettes are not a safe alternative to smoking and can also increase the risk of heart disease. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which can constrict blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart diseases.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Facts About Hypertension.
- American Heart Association. Smoking Cessation.