It’s a well-known fact that smoking causes cancer and other life-threatening diseases, and with over 7,000 chemicals in a cigarette, smoking also poses a significant threat to your heart and arteries.
There is strong evidence that the chemicals in cigarette smoke contribute to a staggering number of heart diseases, arterial ruptures, and other cardiovascular issues. In fact, if we look at the data, we’ll see that smoking is responsible for 1 out of 5 cases of almost any cardiovascular disease-related death worldwide.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how smoking and heart failure are related, along with our overall blood health.
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How Smoking Endangers the Cardiovascular System
The dangerous chemicals present in cigarettes are extremely dangerous to your heart, arteries, and the quality of your blood. Just one cigarette a day increases your risk of the following:
1. Coronary Heart Disease
Smoking significantly raises the risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD), a condition that occurs when the arteries narrow as plaque accumulates in random areas. It restricts blood flow to the heart, leading to chest pain, heart attacks, and even heart failure. There is evidence that cigarette smokers are more likely to suffer from this condition.
A stroke occurs when an artery restricts blood flow to the brain and causes major nerve and brain damage to the patient. Long-time smokers with narrowed arteries are at a high risk of having a stroke.
3. Narrowed Blood Vessels
The chemicals present in cigarettes cause the blood vessels to constrict and reduce blood flow throughout the body, causing hypertension and atherosclerosis (or the hardening of the arteries). This can impact your quality of life and increases your risk of other heart problems later.
While not entirely a heart problem, aneurysm is a disease still worth mentioning in this list. Smoking narrows and weakens the walls of blood vessels and arteries, making them easy to rupture and cause permanent brain damage. One out of 4 aneurysm cases often lead to death.
Technically a lung problem, COPD is common among smokers. Chemicals in smoke narrow your airways, causing laboured breathing by destroying air sacs in the lungs and significantly reducing the lungs’ capability to fight against infections.
Does Nicotine Cause Heart Problems?
The dangerous chemicals in cigarette smoke cause most of the heart conditions described. Nicotine is only a highly addictive substance that keeps smokers addicted to inhaling these dangerous chemicals, and it’s extremely hard to shake off, leading to continuous smoking despite knowing the health risks mentioned.
Will Stopping Smoking Improve My Blood Health?
When you stop smoking, the chemicals present in cigarette smoke begin to dissipate from the body within four to six weeks. You’ll even see benefits in as short as 6 days. When you quit, you improve your blood circulation and reduce the risk of blood clots and narrowed arteries, leading to healthy blood pressure levels.
Stopping smoking and exercising has been shown to expel cigarette chemicals efficiently, so once you decide to start jogging, take up weightlifting, or engage in any strenuous physical activity, you’re on your way to improving your blood health.
Improving Your Heart Health After Smoking
Physical activities like running, jogging, or even brisk walking are extremely taxing at first, but as your body adapts, you’ll notice your endurance improving, your blood pressure stabilising, and generally feel better about yourself because of endorphins.
Once you quit smoking and become more physically active, your body will be hungry for nutrient-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy protein sources. If you continue to persevere, your good habits and diet will make your routines easier as your body becomes free from harmful chemicals.
Does Vaping Cause the Same Heart Problems as Smoking?
While many of the chemicals found in cigarette smoke may also be found in illicit NVPs, most of these chemicals are not found at all in pharmacy NVPs, and where they are found, they are in trace amounts incapable of producing a toxic effect.
Illicit NVPs sold under the counter in tobacconists and corner stores are potentially just as bad for you as smoking, or even worse. They lack manufacturing and quality standards and are designed purely for maximum profit, rather than with your health and safety in mind.
On the other hand, NVP products sold in pharmacies are made under stringent pharmaceutical standards on the manufacturing process and ingredients, are toxicologically assessed for inhalation, are locally insured, and are specifically designed to help you stop smoking with ongoing medical support.
While pharmacy NVPs are treated as second-line options for quitting smoking, the latest Cochrane Review found high-certainty evidence that NVPs are more effective than NRT in helping people stop smoking.
It’s clear that smoking poses a significant threat to blood health and increases the risk of heart, lung, and brain issues. By quitting smoking, you reduce the chances of developing cardiac problems. Without harmful chemicals in the body, you can restore your blood health and improve your overall quality of life, so start quitting today.
We know you want to know about the risks associated with cigarette smoking and its impact on blood health. You’re in the right place.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good.