Medical effects of cigarette smoking on your heart and health

FE Online
cancer, smoking, lung cancer, lifestyle, cigarette smoking, heart disease, preventable heart disease, cholestrol

By Dr. Vaibhav Mishra

Smoking and heart disease: Smoking is injurious to Health we have all read this statutory warning on cigarette packs and along with this are grotesque pictures of Mouth cancer, however the packet doesn't tell you that smokers have 70 % more chance of having a Heart attack than non-smokers.

Most people associate Smoking with Lung cancer and Breathing problems, but Smoking is a major cause of Cardiovascular {Heart and Blood Vessel} diseases ranging from Hypertension to Blockage in the Arteries of Heart causing Fatal Heart Attacks.

Smoking the Number 1 Cause of Preventable Heart Disease and Death. Roughly 1 out of 5 Death from heart disease is directly due to smoking.

How smoking causes deposition fatty layers

The main mechanism remains that Smoking cause deposition fatty plaques in the interior of blood vessel a process called as atherosclerosis, though this is age related however is accelerated in smokers leading to early development of blockages that impede blood supply to the heart resulting in Angina or chest pain at the time of effort and the spectrum goes on to include Minor and Major/Fatal Heart Attacks or Myocardial Infarction

Effects of smoking on your heart:

There are other bad effects of smoking on the heart and blood vessels that contribute to heart Disease

  • Decrease Oxygen to Heart
  • Decrease exercise tolerance
  • Decrease HDL [good cholesterol]
  • Increase Heart rate and blood pressure
  • Damage to the lining of blood vessels
  • Increase blood clotting
  • Increased risk of developing diabetes

Increased risk of heart attacks and cigarettes smoked per day

Studies have shown that increased risk of heart attacks is also for people who smoke less than 5 cigarettes a day hence making any level of smoking unsafe. Smoking only one cigarette a day increases the risk of having a heart attack by 30 % than the general population and it’s around half of those smoking 20 /day.

Hence there is no safe level for smoking and cardiovascular disease.

Smoking also causes blockages in blood vessels of the brain by same mechanism thus leading to stroke and paralysis.

It also causes blockages in arteries of legs causing pain while walking and ulceration finally leading to amputation or loss of leg.

Benefits of quitting smoking:

Everything good happens once you quit such as listed below:

8 hours of quitting your carbon monoxide levels come back to normal, this increases the oxygen available to tissues and helps nourish and repair tissues.

  • 24 hours after quitting, nictone levels drop down thus reducing the constriction of blood vessels
  • 48 hours nerve regenerates, smelling and tastes are better
  • 72 hours –Breathing becomes easy as Bronchial tubes dilates, less sinus congestion
  • 7 days-less mucus, less cough and phlegm
  • 30 days-better exercise tolerance
  • 1 year-risk of heart disease reduced to half
  • 3 years risk of Heart attack equal to a non-smoker
  • 10 years-lung cancer equal to non-smoker

And you have saved Lakhs of rupees!

What makes smoking so dangerous?

What makes smoking even more dangerous is that cigarettes are easily available, can be smoked anytime, anywhere, and are cheap. They have only a psychological dependence, smokers usually smoke when they are happy or sad or have nothing to do or something major to do which is purely a psychological dependence.

But when you think that even if you stop smoking today your risk of having a heart attack will be reduced only after 3 years and the risk of having lung cancer will be comparable to a non-smoker only after 10 years maybe you will feel more motivated.

Cigarette smoking is not just hazardous it can be fatal and there is no safe level to it so quit it as reducing numbers will not help!!

The author is Director & Head, Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Noida. Views expressed are the author's own.