What Are The Effects Of Smoking On The Cardiovascular System?

Tobacco used in the form of cigarette or pipe smoking has proven dangerous effects on human health. Smoking is harmful to every organ of the body, including heart, blood vessel, lungs, eyes, reproductive organs etc. Tobacco contains numerous harmful substances and one of them is nicotine. The immediate effect of nicotine on heart and blood vessels are well known.

It raises the heart rate and blood pressure for 20 minutes soon after the use of tobacco in any form. The effects of smoking are not only restricted to active smokers, but people around smokers who inhale the smoke are also affected.

According to an estimate out of every 5 premature deaths that occur due to smoking, one occurs due to cardiac disease. It is one of the most common causes of heart attack and hypertension.

Harmful Effects Of Smoking On The Cardiovascular System

Smoking tobacco can damage the blood cells. It also harms the blood vessels and deteriorates function of heart. All this leads to atherosclerosis, a disease in which the fatty substance called plaque builds in the lining of blood vessels. It reduces blood circulation leading to many health problems in relation to circulation.

  • Peripheral vascular disease: Narrowing of blood vessels leads to a disease called peripheral vascular disease. Blood from the arteries and veins does not adequately reach limbs due to narrowing of vessels. As a result the tissues, muscles and even skin may get damaged. Severe restriction of blood flow can lead to tissue death. Ultimately the affected limb needs amputation. Long term tobacco smoking is also responsible for aortic aneurysm. Aorta is a main artery arising from the heart which further braches down to form abdominal aorta and upwards to form carotid arteries.
    Plaque formation due to excess of bad cholesterol caused by smoking can lead to abdominal aortic aneurysm or thoracic aortic aneurysm. Aneurysm is thinning of aorta which bulges and may burst leading to death.
  • Heart attacks: Heart attack occurs if the plaque develops in coronary arteries. Cigarette smoking causes the blood to become stickier. It is because of the adherence of platelets to one another as a result of tobacco effect. The blood tends to clot easily. Blood clots in the narrowed coronary arteries can completely or partially block blood flow to heart muscles from coronary vessels. It leads to angina and heart attack.
  • Hypertension: Smoking is also responsible for rise of blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias. Both have serious consequences on heart health. For people who suffer from other conditions such as diabetes or women taking birth control pills, smoking can increase the risk of damage to blood vessels and heart.
  • Low oxygen saturation in blood: Smoking can lower oxygen saturation in blood. Smoking is responsible for pulmonary hypertension. It is rise of blood pressure in the vessels that connect heart and lungs. There is increase of blood pressure in pulmonary arteries. Because of this the exchange between oxygen and carbon dioxide suffers which is vital for healthy state of body. Smoking also releases carbon monoxide in minor amount which seeps away the oxygen from blood. Both this problems can reduce oxygen saturation in blood. The cells may not get enough oxygen supply for which heart starts working harder. Over a period of time the muscles of heart get enlarged in size giving rise to a condition called congestive cardiac failure.

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