Tobacco use remains the most significant, preventable cause of death and disease in the US, killing over 480,000 Americans every year. While we all know smoking isn’t a healthy habit, that doesn’t stop many users from continued use. Not only does smoking increase the risk of lung cancer and specific breathing problems, but it also isn’t great for your cardiovascular health. Cigarettes contain over 600 different ingredients, and the smoke is toxic—creating more than 7,000 different chemicals. Out of these 7,000 chemicals, over 60 are known to cause cancer and at least 200 are harmful to humans. When you inhale these chemicals, an interference with many body processes occurs and only gets worse the longer you continue tobacco use. The cardiovascular experts at AMS Cardiology are here to share smoking damages that can happen and how it can affect your heart health.
How Does Smoking Affect Heart Health?
When you breathe in fresh air, your lungs take in oxygen and deliver it to your heart, which pumps this clean, oxygen-rich blood throughout the rest of your body. We know that cigarette smoke contains numerous chemicals, so what exactly happens when we breathe in those chemicals? Nicotine is the main ingredient in cigarette smoke, but it also includes other harmful substances like tar and carbon monoxide. Every time you smoke a cigarette, these chemicals distribute themselves through your bloodstream and the rest of your body. Not only can smoking damage your heart and blood vessels, but it can also increase your heart rate, tighten major arteries, and cause irregular heart rhythms.
Smoking can lead to more serious cardiovascular health diseases like peripheral artery disease and abdominal aortic aneurysms. These diseases can change your blood chemistry and cause a buildup of plaque, making your heart work harder to deliver blood to your body and vital organs. These complications can lead to blood clots and heart attacks or strokes.
How to Protect Your Heart
There is no “safe” amount of smoking. Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke are also at direct risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and even death. Research has shown that people exposed to secondhand smoke have a 25% to 30% increased risk of heart disease than those who aren’t. The best way to protect yourself from smoking damages is never to start using cigarettes. If you’re looking to quit benefits will be felt almost immediately and long-term effects include:
- Living a longer life
- Feeling healthier
- Slower heart rate
- Skin, hair, and teeth will look better
- Your sense of smell and taste will return
- Your risk of developing other smoking-related conditions will significantly decrease
Quitting smoking requires dedication, determination, and strong willpower. You must be ready to stop in order to be successful. Although stopping is difficult, it is possible. You may experience cravings for cigarettes, have a voracious appetite, or get headaches. These are all withdrawal symptoms and will lessen every day that you are smoke-free. If you’re concerned about your cardiovascular health, know that the heart health experts of AMS Cardiology are here for you. Contact us today to start feeling your best.