How Quitting Smoking Can Lower Your Risk for Heart Disease
By now, you’ve already heard of the negative effects smoking can have on your lungs. Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung cancer are just a few of the consequences long-term smokers have to watch out for. It goes without saying that smoking is detrimental to your health, but what is not discussed enough is the impact that smoking has on your entire body — skin, bones, stomach, and, most importantly, your heart.
In this article, a Tampa heart doctor discusses the alarming effect that smoking has on the heart. As we’ll see below, quitting smoking can have incredible short- and long-term benefits when it comes to heart health. If you are at all concerned with your risk of developing heart disease, schedule an appointment with a Tampa heart doctor who can help you on your way towards a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Cigarettes and Cardiovascular Disease
Heart disease (cardiovascular disease) is a collection of heart conditions that include coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and stroke, among others. Coronary artery disease alone is the deadliest disease in the world. How is smoking linked to cardiovascular disease? Smoking causes atherosclerosis, a buildup of fat deposits on the inner walls of the artery. These fat deposits eventually block the arteries, preventing oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart. Not only does this drastically increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, but it also increases your risk of a heart attack.
A recent study conducted by the Vanderbilt University Medical Center concluded that heavy smokers who quit smoking can reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease by an incredible 39 percent within five years. By quitting smoking, you can effectively reduce your chances of developing the leading cause of death in the world.
How Smoking Damages Your Heart
In addition to increasing fat and plaque buildup, smoking actually thickens your blood, increases your blood pressure and heart rate, and damages the lining of the coronary arteries. When the poison and tar in cigarettes enter your blood they force your heart to pump faster and harder in order to deliver the same amount of blood. The heart is an incredibly efficient organ, but it can’t go at this rate forever. For this reason, smokers should be on the lookout for the symptoms of heart disease. If at any point you experience chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath, numbness in your extremities, jaw pain, or fainting, seek medical attention immediately.
If You Were to Quit Today
If you were to quit today — at this very moment — you would experience immediate health benefits. Your heart rate and blood pressure would be lower in just 20 minutes. In only 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood would lower. And one year from now, your risk of developing coronary heart disease would be cut in half.
Quitting smoking and taking steps to improve your heart health is no easy feat. There are a number of methods, including diet and exercise, to improve your heart health, and they all require steadfast commitment, which is why we recommend partnering with Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC, to monitor your progress as you improve your heart health and overall wellbeing. If you are concerned that you are at risk of developing heart disease, schedule an appointment with Dr. Popat, the best heart doctor in Tampa Bay.
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