How smoking affects your heart?

Updated at: Sep 19, 2017
How smoking affects your heart?

Smoking as opposed to popular culture's cool stature is very dangerous, and is a major cause of deaths. Know how it affects the heart.

Arka Roy Chowdhury
Heart HealthWritten by: Arka Roy ChowdhuryPublished at: Sep 19, 2017

The statutory warning says, “Cigarette smoking is injurious to health”. Most of us associate this health injury to breathing problems and lung cancer while completely avoiding the fact that smoking is also a major cause of heart disease for both men and women. The truth is that smoking is a major cause of coronary artery disease.

You are at the risk of a heart disease and a heart attack if you are smoking cigarettes in a regular basis. According to a study published in scientific journal Current Science, it is suspected that smoking may have caused 100 million premature deaths in India during the past 100 years.

With such remarkably high number of causalities it is not a surprise that various organisations are running anti smoking campaigns. We are doing our bit here for you by informing you the affects that smoking may have on your heart. We always tend to be afraid about our heart’s health when it comes to smoking, but we don’t really try to find out the hows and whys. Here is a look at your heart’s health when you smoke.

Smoking and the smoker

If you are smoking then you have two to four times higher chance of having a heart disease and the risk will rise with your continual smoking spree. Women who smoke and also take birth control pills increase their risk of heart attack several times, along with an increase in the risk of a stroke and peripheral vascular disease.

Cigarettes smoke is not just harmful for smokers, as it also has an effect on the people around. These people who are exposed to second hand smoking are at the risk of developing health problems, and this is especially true for children. Secondhand smoke can cause chronic respiratory conditions, cancer, and heart disease. It is estimated that nearly 70,000 nonsmokers die from heart disease each year as a result of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.

Function of the heart

To understand the disruption caused by cigarette smoking in your heart, it is important to understand the functioning of your heart. The heart is responsible for performing many functions, the most important one being the function of pumping blood throughout the body. Doing this the heart provides oxygenated blood to the tissues and organs of the body. This oxygenation of the blood is basically the process of combining oxygen with blood, which is a function that is performed by the lungs. Your heart’s right side takes the blood that contains no oxygen and pumps it into the lungs to be oxygenated, and the left side receives the blood from your lungs that has been oxygenated. Then this blood that is oxygenated gets pumped by the heart muscle throughout the body to its tissues and various organs.

The effects

  • There are two chemicals present in your neat little cigarette, and they are carbon monoxide and nicotine. Carbon monoxide is that which attaches hemoglobin to the blood and hemoglobin is responsible for the transport of oxygen throughout the body. What carbon monoxide does is, it reduces the oxygen and thus reduces the ability of hemoglobin to transport oxygen to the heart and throughout the rest of the human body.
  • Nicotine on the other hand stimulates adrenaline production in the body and this causes the heart to beat faster and raises blood pressure. Also smoking negatively affects the heart by its impact on the production of cholesterol. Cigarette smoking increases the production of LDL cholesterol which is the bad one, and decreases the production of HDL, which is the good cholesterol.
  • Long term smoking or being exposed to second hand smoking for long can have serious and harmful consequences on the heart. Your blood pressure may shoot up, and your heart will have to work harder on a daily basis, this would mean that there will be a strain on the heart which will build up slowly over the years.
  • Cholesterol is also affected when you smoke, cholesterol leads to a narrowing and hardening of the arteries and this then prevents the proper flow of oxygen to the heart and throughout the body. Therefore the heart gets tremendously worked up which may lead to a heart attack.

It is now safe to say that your chances of having an acute heart attack increase every time the fire touches your cigarette and you inhale the smoke. Therefore, you should quit smoking, and not later, not tomorrow, not starting next week, but today.

Image source : Shutterstock


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