According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, cigarette smoking causes one out of every five deaths in America each year. It’s considered to be the main preventable cause of death and illness in our country.
While smoking impacts a number of organs in the body, the chemicals in tobacco harm your blood cells, damage the heart and affect the structure and function of blood vessels. Blood vessels can become swollen and inflamed, opening the door for a number of cardiovascular conditions, including atherosclerosis – a disease caused by the buildup and hardening of plaque inside your arteries.
Plaque build-up in the coronary artery can lead to coronary heart disease, while plaque build-up in arteries that carry blood to the head, organs, and limbs can cause peripheral artery disease. In both cases, blood flow is restricted and grows increasingly blocked over time, which can lead to blood clots. Atherosclerosis can ultimately cause a life-altering heart attack or stroke.
Smoking can be particularly damaging to your health when it’s combined with other risk factors — such as high cholesterol levels in the blood, high blood pressure and being overweight/obesity.
Even light/occasional smoking, inhaling cigarette smoke that contains low tar and exposure to second-hand smoke can all harm the heart and damage blood vessels. Second-hand smoke is especially damaging for children and teens.
Experts agree that no matter how long you’ve smoked, quitting immediately will be beneficial to your long-term health. Within one year or quitting, the risk of having a heart attack drops dramatically; within five years, the risk of having a stroke drops to that of a non-smoker, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health.
For a vein specialist referral, or for more information on vein disorders and treatments, visit http://www.eVeinScreening.com.