Heart disease is very serious and over and over we hear how smoking can cause it. But how? How can smoking lead to heart disease? In fact, what exactly is heart disease?
In this context, the phrase ‘heart disease’ usually refers to coronary artery disease. That’s a condition in which a major blood vessel that leaves the heart carrying oxygen-rich blood becomes constricted. That increases the odds of a clot or closure that causes a heart attack. That’s why it’s sometimes called ‘having a coronary’.
Smoking makes a person’s chances of having coronary artery disease or heart disease much greater for a variety of reasons.
Smoking slows the flow of oxygen into the heart which increases your chances of heart disease. The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke attaches itself to the hemoglobin of the red blood cells. These are the cells that help carry oxygen to the heart.
Cigarettes also contain nicotine which works against the heart because it robs the blood of oxygen that the heart needs. It also makes the blood clot easier which increases your risk of a heart attack.
But even more subtle, yet still dangerous, effects are produced by nicotine. One of the most serious, long term, is that it encourages the growth of fatty deposits on the arteries, constricting blood flow and hardening the blood vessel.
Arthrosclerosis is a condition where good cholesterol called HDL (high density lipoprotein) is decreased in the blood which allows for fat deposits to form on the arteries. Smoking greatly encourages and feeds this condition.
There is a reason that heart disease and stroke are often mentioned together when discussing the harmful effects of smoking. With the clogging of arteries brought on by smoking there is an increase in blood pressure as the blood struggles to pass through the constricted arteries. Because of the increased stress on these arteries and the heart, any weak area will most likely rupture. That means that oxygen will not flow to the brain and that leads to a stroke.
When your arteries become hard they are not able to perform their tasks without extreme stress.
Blood will not flow properly through arteries if there are holes in your arteries. Also, if your blood does not continue to flow freely through your arteries the results are always damaging but can be deadly. Every living tissue in your body is depending on the blood it needs survive and that blood is delivered through the arteries of your heart.
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