The Link Between Smoking and Heart Disease

Despite the widely available information on the dangers of smoking, and the warnings on the packaging, cigarette smoking is still the leading cause of preventable diseases, serious health conditions, and death in the United States. Almost 40 million American adults and 4.7 million teens use some form of tobacco, including cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Annually, smoking kills about half a million people and causes 16 million people to live with serious illnesses, including heart disease. So, what’s the link between smoking and heart disease?

Find the answer—and expert care—at 1st Choice Urgent Care in Bakersfield, California. If you’re dealing with the effects of smoking, Dr. Yadwinder Kang offers lab testing, EKGs, X-rays, and blood tests to diagnose smoking-related conditions. We’re dedicated to quickly assessing and addressing all your medical issues and delivering friendly and prompt results.

What smoking does to the body

The combination of dangerous substances in cigarettes from acetone to carbon monoxide leads to an ongoing danger to your entire body. Most chemicals you inhale while you smoke are dangerous, and at least 69 of them being linked to cancer. Here are just some of the places in your body smoking damages:

Central nervous system

A key ingredient in tobacco is nicotine, which is a mood altering drug that is extremely habit forming and creates your addiction to smoking. It takes very little time to reach your brain, and withdrawal from smoking can cause anxiousness, irritation, and depression.

Respiratory system

Smoking damages your lungs, increasing the chances, over time, of irreversible lung conditions like emphysema, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.

Integumentary system

This system includes your skin, hair, and nails, and smoking actually changes the structure of your skin. It weakens your body’s ability to fight skin cancer, increases the risk of fungal infection on your nails, and speeds up balding and graying hair.

How it can lead to heart disease

Your entire cardiovascular system is affected by inhaling cigarette smoke. The same nicotine that creates your addiction to smoking also tightens blood vessels, restricting your blood flow. Eventually that narrowing and blood vessel damage leads to peripheral artery disease, which increases your risk for heart attack and stroke. Smoking also raises your blood pressure, weakens the walls of your blood vessels, and increases blood clots, which can cause stroke.

Secondhand smoke has the same risk for nonsmokers as it does for those who smoke, causing 34,000 premature fatalities annually.

What you can do to help

The best thing you can do for yourself and those around you is to stop smoking. If you stop, you reduce the risk of many of the conditions mentioned above and add as many as 10 years to your life expectancy. The earlier you stop, the better your long-term chances of avoiding the many dangers to your body. Nicotine replacement therapy and many other methods are available if you're ready to take the first step to quitting.

To see how smoking is affecting you, make an appointment with Dr. Kang and 1st Choice Urgent Care today. Knowing what smoking is doing to you is the first step toward a healthier, longer life.

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