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What Are The Effects Of Smoking On Your Heart?

  • timeline Anoush Gomes
  • 3 Min Read
  • Fact Checked

Smoking, known to be a silent killer, is most often linked with illnesses such as lung cancer and COPD. Very rarely though, do many talk about the effect that smoking cigarettes or tobacco has on the heart. This World Heart Day, (and everyday), it’s important to understand how vices such as smoking can affect the longevity of your heart. Medically speaking, smoking increases the risk of heart disease and peripheral vascular heart disease. This article will detail the effects of smoking on your heart, therefore encouraging you to put in a constant effort to drop that cigarette and look out for one of your major organs. 

How does smoking affect your heart?

Your heart works hard to pump blood to your other organs and parts of your body every second, and smoking can affect the amount of stress put on the organ.  There are also many ingredients in a cigarette that affects your heart drastically. Simply speaking, smoking cigarettes can:

– Block major heart arteries
– Lead to irregular heart rhythm
– Increase heart rate
– Increases blood pressure (which can result in strokes)
– Atherosclerosis (plaque formation in arteries)
– Cause injury to blood vessels
– Increase the risk of blood clot formation
– Lead to coronary heart disease
– Lead to aneurysms
Raises bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol

All of these result in your heart working harder than it needs to. People often wonder if one cigarette is okay, but that’s not true. Whether you smoke one, or a pack, the effects on your heart are still valid. Breathing in cigarette smoke, the blood that your heart carries to the rest of your body is also filled with chemicals like carbon monoxide present in the smoke. In fact, those around you breathing the second hand smoke are also at risk for the above conditions. 

Why you should quit smoking today

Smoking can be an addiction, and therefore makes it a habit that is hard to quit. But, when you stop smoking, your heart almost immediately thanks you while starting to heal. It is said that it can take up to 15 years for your heart to resemble the heart of a non smoker – resulting in reducing your risks of any of the points mentioned above. Furthermore, quitting smoking can also help more than your heart. It will increase your lifespan, help your skin and teeth, and most importantly reduce the risk of medical conditions such as lung cancer, asthma, COPD, and throat cancer, among other conditions.

Here are some facts that can help you on your journey to quitting smoking:
– In just a few hours, of quitting, there are positive physiological changes that the heart undergoes
– Your heart rate and blood pressure drops just 20 minutes after your last cigarette
–  A few days after you quit, the carbon monoxide (present in cigarette smoke) levels in your blood become normal helping your heart and other organs  get the oxygen they need
– Your lifespan increase drastically if your 4 years smoking free
– Within 1-2 years of quitting, the risk of a heart attack drops dramatically

If you’re struggling with quitting smoking, you can reach out to a general physician that can help you quit the habit. They can help you understand your triggers, and also introduce you to nicotine patches, nasal sprays and even prescription medications that can help you alter your urge to smoke.

It is important to understand that if you’ve been a smoker for a while, you may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. During this time, your support system around you – friends, family, therapists etc – will be able to keep you focused and on track to quitting. The effects of smoking on your heart can be dire, and while quitting can be hard – it’s not impossible,

This World Heart Day, make your heart health a priority. All it takes is one step to quit the dangerous habit.

Dr. Preyas Vaidya, a pulmonologist from Fortis Hospitals,  shares all about how many cigarettes a day can be smoked and whether there’s a cigarette limit indeed.

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    Anoush Gomes

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