Anatomy Physiology

If you are considering to quit smoking, perhaps learning more about the negative impacts smoking has to your circulatory system may work as a further incentive to successfully call it quits. Indeed, smoking does much more than causing a foul breath, an annoying chronic cough and ultimately lung disease and cancer. Not many people are aware of the deleterious effects smoking has on your arteries and heart.

The two chemicals to blame in this case are nicotine and carbon monoxide. Nicotine acts on the body as a stimulant, therefore, it speeds up the heart, increases the blood pressure and acts as a vasoconstrictor.This puts lots of strain in the heart which must rely on more oxygen which is carried by the blood. However, such oxygen resource is depleted by the presence of carbon monoxide in the tobacco smoke.This makes the heart work harder creating a vicious cycle.

The constricted arteries at this point, will be unable to function properly and therefore, fats and cholesterol will be released in the blood. At this point the blood will be dense and the arteries will start to get clogged. When this happens, the clogged arteries will not be able to deliver blood to the heart which will starve from oxygen deprivation and die within minutes a condition known as heart attack ( cardiac infarction). Depending on the size of the area affected, the affected individual may succumb and die or at best, may have to live with permanent cardiac damage.

While the heart is a common victim of infarction, it is not the only organ that can be affected by smoking. Any organ supplied by arteries may be affected once the arteries are clogged. The arteries leading to the brain may also get blocked, just as the heart, an area of the brain will be cut off from life sustaining blood and oxygen and therefore will die within minutes, a condition known as stroke.

Depending on which part of the brain is affected, various issue may arise. If the part of the brain controlling speech is affected you may no longer be able to talk anymore. If the part of the brain affecting your motor skills is involved you may be crippled for life. If the part of the brain affected is an area that helps keep you alive you may die.

If you are lucky enough that your major life sustaining organs are not affected by the nicotine, you may still be victim of a condition unique to smokers called Buerger’s disease. In this case, your fingers or toes may be cut off from receiving blood and the tissue may die forming gangrene. Amputation in most cases is necessary to remove all dead tissue.

Buerger’s disease typically affects individuals between the ages of 20 and 40. While this condition is not so common, it is acts still as a deterrent because there is always that ”chance’ you do not want to take’.

While smoking can kill you causing you to die within minutes from a stroke or heart attack, perhaps the most intimidating issues to deal with are the chances of living a whole life crippled, unable to speak or worse, unable to move living like a vegetable. Is it really worth the risk? You decide.