Perhaps you’ve heard that smoking is bad for your health. It’s been pretty common knowledge for decades. In fact, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States. It kills over 480,000 individuals per year in the U.S. alone. Smoking can cause lung cancer and a myriad of other health problems. But did you know that smoking and nicotine can have a big effect on your heart health? Individuals at risk of heart disease, stroke, and even diabetes are advised to stop smoking as soon as possible. You might assume that this is because of the chemicals found in cigarettes. After all, the average cigarette contains over 5,000 chemicals, including arsenic, formaldehyde, and tar. As people have learned what cigarettes contain, the number who light up, went down.
Recent advances in technology of tobacco use have led to a renewed interest in smoking. E-cigarettes and vaping is on the rise as manufacturers have taken out some of the harmful ingredients found in cigarettes. Unfortunately, your health is still impacted even with an e-cigarette. E-cigarettes usually still contain nicotine. Incredibly, the nicotine content in e-cigarettes is often higher than what’s found in typical cigarettes.
Whether you smoke traditional cigarettes or e-cigarettes, you’re consuming nicotine. Nicotine can affect your body in a variety of ways, most notably it affects your cardiovascular system. It is highly addictive and can lead to symptoms of withdrawal when you try to quit. Nicotine affects your heart by:
- Increasing your blood pressure.
- Speeding up your heart rate.
- Narrowing your arteries.
In addition, nicotine might also contribute to the hardening of your artery walls. Nicotine can essentially directly affect your cardiovascular system and the way your heart functions. This can eventually lead you to have a heart attack.
When you smoke, the nicotine stays in your system for six to eight hours. So, depending on how many times you light up a day, you are flooding your system with nicotine all day long.
Nicotine is addictive. When you decide to quit smoking, what you are really trying to do is quit nicotine. When you start giving up nicotine, here’s what may happen.
- You may have trouble thinking.
- You might be hungrier than normal.
- You might feel irritable, anxious, or angry.
- Your body will crave tobacco.
It may take you several tries. Most people who quit smoking had to try more than once before they were successful.
Keep in mind, nicotine is addictive. Research on nicotine seems to suggest it’s just as addictive as alcohol, heroin, or cocaine. But, the good news is that quitting smoking can have both long term and immediate benefits to your health and your heart. There are many different ways that people quit smoking. Talking to your doctor is a great place to start. They can suggest local and national programs, behavioral therapists, or even medication that may help you on your journey to quit smoking.