If you asked 100 people to quickly name one thing that’s bad for your health, a vast majority of them would undoubtedly say smoking. The negative health effects of cigarettes are widely known, yet millions of people continue to smoke despite all of the risks involved.
But what is the exact relationship between smoking and heart disease? What effects do cigarettes have on the cardiovascular system? Let’s take a closer look to find out…
FACT: Smoking kills over 480,000 Americans each year, and millions worldwide, according to the CDC!
How does smoking affect your heart and general health?
The negative health effects of smoking are endless. Cigarettes have literally thousands of chemical components, at least 400 of which are toxic. Its tar component can cause lung cancer; its gas can cause pulmonary disease and its carbon monoxide and nicotine significantly increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. If those aren’t reasons enough to quit we don’t know what it would take to convince you.
The number one cigarette smoking health effect is heart disease, in particular atherosclerosis, which is a clogging of the arteries. When combined with other factors such as lack of exercise, high cholesterol and obesity the risk is significantly greater.
Smoking increases your blood pressure as well as the tendency for the development of blood clots, both precursors of heart disease and possible heart attacks or stroke. A decrease in important HDL (good) cholesterol is another one of the health effects smoking has on your body. This leaves more LDL (bad) cholesterol in your bloodstream, which could lead to clogged arteries.
Just to recap, here’s how smoking and heart disease are related….
1. Carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood.
2. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease and stroke exponentially.
3. Smoking contributes to hardening of the arteries.
4. Nicotine increases your blood pressure.
5. Smoking increases the likelihood of blood clots.
7. Smoking reduces beneficial HDL cholesterol.
8. Smoking is a big risk factor for peripheral artery disease.
9. Smoking damages heart tissues.
10.Smoking damages blood cells.
Remember, these are just the specific ways that smoking cigarettes affect your heart. They are equally harmful to your lungs, bones, organs, eyes, mouth and every other part of your body. And if you’re also overweight, drink alcohol, have high stress levels as well as high cholesterol, triglycerides, homocysteine or CRP, your risks are increased that much more.
What are the effects of quitting smoking on your heart?
Numerous clinical studies have shown that the effects of quitting smoking can be quite beneficial to your health, almost immediately. Smoking cessation can significantly reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.
According to the Surgeon General’s Report “quitting smoking reduces the risk of repeat heart attacks and death from heart disease by 50 percent or more.” This statistic is reason alone to quit cigarettes as soon as possible.
FACT: A 2013 international multicultural study of 13,372 patients from different countries determined that quitting smoking reduces your risk of a heart attack to the levels of those who have never smoked at all.
Even minor health effects of smoking warrant you quitting smoking as soon as possible, including bad breath, yellow teeth and damaged skin. But with the irrefutable scientific evidence regarding smoking and heart disease, cancer, emphysema and a host of other serious health problems, there’s every reason to quit as soon as possible.
What other lifestyle changes reduce the risk of heart disease?
If you currently smoke, quit now. Plain and simple. Also, try to follow the following steps to further reduce your risk:
1. Start exercising regularly, 3-4 times per week, for at least a half hour at a time. Get your heart pumping and your blood moving. This is critical for cardiovascular strength and maximal function.
2. Follow a healthy heart diet – limit your trans fats, processed foods, fast food, snacks. Incorporate extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and Omega 3 fatty acids into your diet. It’s easier than ever before to do, with more healthy choices available at markets around the world.
3. Try to keep your weight within recommended limits, reduce stress and anxiety, and don’t drink excessively or use drugs.
4. Incorporate heart healthy nutrients, including but not limited to the Vitamin B family, herbal extracts, and fish oil.
Learn more about reducing your risk
You can read more about how you can reduce your risk of heart disease throughout this site, but start by quitting cigarettes today.
Healthy Heart Nutrients – vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts and other nutrients to maintain cardiovascular health.
Healthy Heart Diet – tips on eating well and avoiding damaging foods such as trans fats, sugars and processed food.
Exercising for Life – regular exercise can improve cardiovascular and overall health significantly.
Smoking and Heart Disease – What’s the Bottom Line?
We realize that quitting smoking is definitely not an easy thing. But armed with the knowledge of just how dangerous cigarettes are for your heart and overall health, you should try as hard as possible to at the very least reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke each day, and work your way towards total cessation…no matter how long it takes.
The benefits to your health are immediate, and you’ll be so happy that you made that important decision.
Please be sure to consult with your physician before making any dietary, exercise or lifestyle changes to reduce cigarette smoking health effects and/or decrease risk of heart disease.