You don’t need a reminder that smoking is bad for your heart. But do you realize the full extent of the damage your heart sustains every time you light up a cigarette? Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in our country. It kills nearly 500,000 people every year, but with the right knowledge and support, you don’t need to be part of that statistic.
Smoking Affects Your Blood Vessels
Blood is responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to your body’s tissues and organs. This is an absolutely necessary task; if your blood fails to deliver oxygen and nutrients, the consequences are deadly.
The blood vessels function as highways for blood as it travels throughout the body. The carbon monoxide that enters the body while smoking actually damages the all-important layer of cells inside the blood vessels. This makes it much harder for the blood vessels to sustain healthy circulation.
Smoking Leads to Atherosclerosis
The chemicals in cigarette smoke also inflame the cells lining the blood vessels. As they swell, the blood vessels are forced to narrow and lose their flexibility. Fat, cholesterol, and other substances in the blood make this condition even worse as they form plaque that builds up in the walls of the arteries.
Smoking Increases Your Blood Pressure
Nicotine is the most addicting component of cigarettes, partially because it stimulates the body to produce adrenaline. This adrenaline makes the heart beat faster and raises blood pressure. As a result, the heart has to work harder to complete the same amount of work.
Smoking Leads to Heart Disease
Due to the above three factors, every single cigarette you smoke increases your likelihood of getting heart disease. In fact, one out of five deaths from heart disease are related to smoking. This makes smokers two to four times more likely to get heart disease than the general non-smoking population. Smoking is so toxic that even secondhand smoke can cause heart disease.
Your Risk of Heart Disease Drops When You Quit Smoking
All of the information listed above is concerning, but even if you are currently a smoker, your health is not out of your control! Your risk of heart disease, stroke, and many other cardiovascular conditions drop significantly after you quit. It only takes your body a few years to return to lower risk levels similar to lifetime non-smokers.