People often discuss the links between cigarette smoking and lung disease, but what many don’t realize is that smoking can also drastically impact your heart’s health. In fact, people who smoke are two to four times more likely to deal with heart disease.
When you smoke cigarettes, you run the risk of encountering one or more of these heart concerns in the future:
Damaged Blood Vessels
The chemicals in tobacco smoke can severely harm your blood cells, and if you have been smoking for a long time, the chemicals can even change the structure of your vessels. This damage increases your risk for more serious problems and alters the function of the heart. Even a light amount of smoking can begin damaging the heart and blood vessels, and if you take birth control pills or have diabetes, the risk can be even higher.
Because smoking damages the lining of your heart’s arteries, fatty materials can build up on the walls, causing them to narrow dangerously. This can lead to a variety of problems, including heart attacks and strokes. Furthermore, the nicotine in cigarettes causes your body to produce more adrenaline, which can cause blood clots to form and increase your risk of a heart attack even more.
This disease occurs when plaque builds up inside the heart’s arteries. Over time, this plaque can harden, causing the arteries to narrow and therefore restrict the flow of oxygen-filled blood to your entire body.
Coronary Heart Disease
CHD occurs when plaque builds up in the heart’s arteries, eventually causing chest pain, arrhythmias, heart attacks, heart failure, or in extreme cases, even death. More than three million cases are diagnosed in the U.S. every year, and sometimes there are no signs to warn smokers that they’ve developed the disease.
Peripheral Artery Disease
In this condition, plaque builds up in the arteries, leading to an increased risk of strokes, heart disease, and heart attacks. It’s a common circulatory problem that can last for years or even a person’s entire life. One of the first signs smokers often notice if they have PAD is leg pain when walking due to the restricted flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.
Fortunately, the risk of developing any of these heart problems decreases substantially if the smoker quits their bad habit. Even if you’ve smoked for years, it’s worth quitting in order to decrease the chance of developing heart disease or dangerous blood clots.
At Brookhaven Heart, we strive to offer excellent care to patients struggling with heart conditions like the ones listed. If you are a smoker, we highly recommend that you schedule an appointment with one of our cardiac doctors to ensure that you aren’t developing serious conditions like peripheral artery disease or coronary heart disease. We’ll be with you every step of the way as you improve your health and protect your heart.