Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is smoking really bad for your heart?"
I'm a smoker and have been for about 5 years. I understand that its bad for my lungs but why is smoking so bad for your heart? Is this actually just an urban legend about tobbaco?
It is universally believed that smoking is very bad for your health. It damages almost every organ in your body. It directly contributes to serious cancer, lung and heart diseases. Cigarette smoking contains many chemicals that enter your body. Two of these substances are nicotine and carbon monoxide that have a major effect on the heart and blood vessels. Nicotine makes the heart work harder and need more oxygen. Carbon monoxide, on the other hand, reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches the heart. Together nicotine and carbon monoxide promote severe damage to the walls of your arteries. It can also cause arteries already partially blocked by plaque due to atherosclerosis to become narrower, further decreasing oxygen-rich blood flow that leads to blood clotting. Consequently, your heart has to work harder to pump blood through those narrow blood vessels. It increases your heart rate and blood pressure. When a blocked artery deprives part of the heart muscle of blood flow, it triggers a heart attack. Smoking also decreases "good" cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein and increases "bad" cholesterols (both very low-density lipoprotein or low-density lipoprotein) and fats called triglycerides that clog the arteries. Nicotine addiction is very tough to kick off, but you should give smoking cessation program a try. I suggest a consultation with a primary care doctor if you need further information or more concerns. Good luck!
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