Smoking threatens your health in many ways, and the health of your lungs isn’t the only thing at risk. Your heart health is also at risk. That’s because smoking hurts your blood vessels.
As a board-certified internal medicine physician Prabhdeep Singh, MD, helps patients in the El Centro, California area reach and maintain optimal health. If you’re a smoker, you must do everything possible to quit smoking permanently. Heart disease is the number one cause of death, and high blood pressure is a major risk factor. The goal is to adopt a healthy lifestyle and lower your risks.
Smoking harms blood vessels
Smoking harms blood vessels in several ways, raising the risk for chronic high blood pressure and heart disease over time. One of the major problems with smoking is that it restricts blood flow from the heart, reducing how much oxygen reaches your tissues. Additionally, smoking damages blood vessels.
Immediate changes in blood pressure
Cigarette smoking immediately raises blood pressure by activating your sympathetic nervous system (SNS). Within about 20 minutes of smoking, blood pressure rises. Repeated blood pressure spikes can be harmful.
The SNS regulates your body's stress reaction. Hormonal signals cause extra blood flow to your muscles when your SNS is activated. You’ll feel more tense and alert, and your pulse and blood pressure will rise.
Smoking causes the same increase in heart rate and blood pressure as a stressful event. This can damage the walls of your arteries over time, increasing your risk of serious heart conditions.
Smoking can also increase the risk of fatty substances building up inside your arteries. This is known as atherosclerosis, a major risk factor for heart attack or stroke. In a vicious cycle, high blood pressure promotes the progression of atherosclerosis. As plaque builds up in artery walls, the arteries thicken, become hard, and narrow.
Smoking impairs blood pressure regulation
The body relies on a carefully coordinated system to safeguard blood pressure and keep it at the appropriate level. This system helps to lower blood pressure when it rises too high. Clinical data found that smoking impairs this system, preventing the body from buffering high blood pressure and pushing blood pressure to unhealthy levels.
Evidence of the effects of smoking on blood pressure
While scientists have long known that smoking increases blood pressure in the short term, its long-term impact on blood pressure has been less clear. However, a 15-year study published in the BMJ journal confirmed the link between smoking and high blood pressure. Researchers found that long-term smoking is linked to chronic high blood pressure.
Quitting smoking improves heart health
The advantages of quitting smoking are nearly immediate. Heart rate drops and returns to normal less than an hour after the last cigarette.
Cigarettes contain numerous toxins, including carbon monoxide, which reduces oxygen flow to the lungs and blood. The body works to remove excess carbon dioxide after just a day of quitting smoking.
The risk of a heart attack also begins to decrease shortly after quitting smoking. In a short period, oxygen levels in the body increase, which is beneficial for heart health. In addition, lung function improves.
It’s crucial to stick with it if you quit smoking because your risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half after one year of not smoking. This risk will continue to fall after a year, and the benefits will increase.
Suppose you’re currently a smoker or are otherwise concerned about your cardiovascular health. In that case, Dr. Singh can evaluate your risk factors and heart health and help you improve your heart health and keep your blood pressure within a healthy range.
For exceptional internal medicine, we invite you to give us a call to schedule a visit with Dr. Singh today.