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3 Ways Smoking Affects Your Cardiovascular Health, and How to Quit

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Among smoking’s various health consequences, lung cancer has been the most commonly recognized by the public and health experts. However, this perspective changed in 2022 after a study funded by the NHLBI confirmed that smokers face a higher likelihood of dying from heart disease. This study also reported that smokers are at a greater risk of experiencing a sudden and fatal cardiovascular event without prior warning.

These findings emphasize the urgent need to understand the intricate ways smoking affects cardiovascular health. Below, we discuss the cardiovascular toll of smoking and discuss tips for individuals looking to quit and safeguard their well-being.

The toll of smoking on cardiovascular health

Damage to arteries and blood vessels

Nicotine stimulates the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline from the adrenal glands, which consequently causes vasoconstriction in the blood vessels. As noted in our previous article on the 60 Second Trick, quitting smoking is key to reducing the risks of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues, as it raises blood pressure temporarily and damages blood containers. Persistent high blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular complications.

Continuous exposure to these harmful substances also causes the arteries to narrow and harden, a condition known as atherosclerosis. This increases the risk of heart attack and stroke and also raises the likelihood of developing peripheral artery disease.

Elevated risk of blood clots

Nicotine and other chemicals present in cigarette smoke stimulate platelets to become stickier. This leads to increased aggregation and the formation of blood clots, which can obstruct blood flow to vital organs and tissues. This is aggravated by the chronic inflammation and production of nitric oxide induced by cigarette smoking.

Previous studies have found that the risk of venous thromboembolism, or when a blood clot forms in a vein, increased by 10.2% for every additional ten cigarettes smoked per day. These clots can block the arteries supplying the heart or brain, resulting in heart attacks or strokes, respectively.

Compromised heart function

Chronic smoking diminishes the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells and deprives the heart of the essential oxygen it needs. This means that smokers are more likely to experience chest pain and shortness of breath, especially during physical exertion.

Worse, smokers are twice as likely to develop heart failure, according to a 2022 study on JACC. This statistic was derived from a testing pool of nearly 9,500 individuals in four US communities, exemplifying how the consequences of smoking affect all individuals regardless of gender, race, or class.

Strategies for quitting smoking

Quitting smoking can significantly improve cardiovascular health across multiple factors, including age of cessation, long-term survival, reduction in cardiovascular disease risk, and implications for type 2 diabetes. Thankfully, there are now various quit-smoking aids in the market to ease the transition, with smokeless alternatives being one of the most popular choices.

These alternatives help you wean off nicotine without the extreme withdrawal symptoms that come from abruptly cutting off your supply of tobacco. There are a variety of formats available, too, including nicotine pouches, patches, lozenges, and gum. For instance, users who dislike the dryer options in the market can opt instead for LUCY nicotine pouches. This brand boasts a moisture-enhancing blend, ensuring a comfortable mouthfeel during usage. Like its drier counterparts, LUCY pouches only need to be tucked under the lip for nicotine to release.

For those who prefer more traditional alternatives, then nicotine gum and lozenges are also readily available in convenience stores. Despite worries regarding potential cardiovascular effects, the nicotine gum from Nicorette and other generic brands has long been confirmed safe for tobacco cessation. Previous studies have clarified that it’s the additional toxins present in cigarettes and the method of delivery that contribute significantly to elevated blood pressure — making these alternatives a preferable option for individuals with cardiovascular worries.

You can combine these aids with therapy or counseling to address the psychological addiction of smoking simultaneously. These can help you identify your triggers and develop coping strategies to better navigate cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Support groups can also be invaluable in offering encouragement and accountability throughout your quitting journey.

Smoking cessation is challenging, but with determination and a comprehensive quitting plan, it is worth embarking on for the betterment of one’s cardiovascular well-being. For more on health and fitness, check out our blog on Beauty Magnetism.




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