If there were a magic pill that could reduce blood pressure, increase your blood oxygen levels, lower the risk of blood clots, and strengthen your heart, it’s a safe bet that most people would take it. But if you smoke, you can get all of these benefits and more simply by quitting. In fact, the single best thing that smokers can do for heart disease prevention is to quit smoking entirely. This is because smoking can contribute to heart disease in four very serious ways.
1. Reduces Oxygen Levels
With the intake of smoke and toxins found in cigarettes, less oxygen is delivered to your bloodstream. This increases the strain on your heart by forcing it to pump harder just to get enough oxygen into your body, which can raise your blood pressure to unhealthy levels.
2. Damages Arterial Lining
The lack of oxygen combined with tobacco smoke coming in can damage your arteries and create artery plaque. This narrows the vessels and reduces their ability to open all the way. This can lead to heart conditions that can increase blood pressure and raise your risk of serious heart diseases.
3. Increases Blood Pressure
Nicotine found in cigarettes also causes the release of adrenaline. This increases how quickly your heart beats and raises your blood pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is known to contribute to heart disease.
4. Increased Risk of Blood Clots
Nicotine and lack of blood oxygen can thicken your blood, increasing the risk of clotting. While clots are not harmful by themselves, blood clot pieces can break off and enter the bloodstream. If these pieces move to important organs, they can create blockages that increase the risk of potentially fatal conditions such as heart attacks or strokes.