Tobacco use is accountable for the rising number of premature deaths in the United States, killing over 400,000 people every year. Other than destroying your lungs, smoking also weakens your heart until it no longer functions, thus, exposing you to major cardiovascular problems. In fact, tobacco use accounts for 20% of all cardiovascular health-related deaths in the country.
There are many ways by which tobacco use can affect your heart health. Here are some of them:
1. Smoking decreases the supply of oxygen to your heart. Just as any part of your body, your heart requires considerable amount of oxygen to survive and function well. Nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco tend to block your nerves, disrupting blood flow.
2. Smoking pushes your heart to work harder. Because of the disrupted blood flow, your heart has to work double time to pump and make sure your blood reaches all parts of your body. Too much pressure in the arteries could lead to inflammation and cell damage.
3. The prevalence of blood clotting is higher among smokers than non-smokers. Smokers have higher levels of fibrinogen and platelet which make their blood thicker and stickier. Because of this, carbon monoxide (which comes from tobacco) easily attaches itself to the hemoglobin and prevents the oxygen from being absorbed by the tissues. All these things expose smokers to atherosclerotic diseases.
4. Tobacco contains over four thousand compounds that damage the cells that line the coronary arteries and blood vessels.
5. Smoking stimulates the build-up of plaque in the heart, increasing the risk of blood clotting. This occurrence normally results to heart attack or stroke.
6. Both first-hand and second-hand smoke trigger the hardening of arteries which then causes permanent damage on the heart, a study suggests. Hardening of arteries has been linked to an increased risk in high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
7. Smoking is accountable for the 50% increase of arteriosclerosis development among smokers. Arteriosclerosis refers to the build-up of plaque along arterial walls.
8. Smoking raises your cholesterol level – another factor that contributes to an increased risk of developing heart disease.
9. Smoking impairs blood circulation. Just one cigarette can already impair your blood flow for up to 45 minutes! Smoking leads to constricted blood vessels, which then prevent the passage of oxygen-carrying blood. That’s the reason why your heart beats faster whenever you smoke – it has to pump harder to sustain blood circulation.
10. Smoking also damages the arteries that connect the heart to the brain, thereby increasing the likelihood of stroke (clotting of blood in the brain).
Quit Smoking Now to Save Your Heart!
Studies show that smokers who quit experience an immediate reduction in their risk of developing heart disease hours from their last cigarette. This means it is never too late to quit! If you already have signs of poor heart health, smoking becomes more critical. Ask your doctor today to know what your smoking cessation options are.