It’s not uncommon for people’s thoughts to turn to flowers and hearts on Valentine’s Day, and if your sweetheart is a smoker or uses any tobacco products with nicotine, their habit is not only hurting their heart, but their entire cardiovascular system.
Most adult smoking starts before teens even graduate from high school, and while they may not have developed a pack-a-day habit (or maybe they have), even a few cigarettes can cause damage to the heart and blood vessels. So how does this happen?
When you take that puff, the nicotine speeds up your heart rate and increases your blood pressure. Your blood vessels also narrow making it more difficult for organs through out your body to get adequate blood flow, including your brain. This constant constriction hurts your vessels by causing them to be less elastic, even those in your heart. In order to pump the blood through the vessels, your heart rate may increase. Snuff and chewing tobacco users also show an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, but these types of tobacco act differently on the heart than cigarette smoking.
Ever notice how some smokers have blue lips? Their body isn’t getting enough oxygen because the carbon monoxide in the smoke binds to hemoglobin, the molecule in your blood that carries oxygen and the carbon monoxide reduces it. This happens to every cell in your body, including your heart and brain. In order for your body to get more oxygen, your heart may enlarge, but that’s not a good thing because it has to work harder.
Many teens who would never have begun to smoke are turning to vaping because they believe it is safer that smoking. The problem is we don’t have all the medical facts about vaping and what long-term use can do to your body. What we do know now is that for those devices containing nicotine, there is potential of cardiovascular harm in the chemical vapor by boosting adrenaline levels in the heart which puts it under stress. Inflammation in the body from smoking was also looked at and while e-cigarettes produced a “slightly less” inflammatory response when compared to cigarettes, it can still “contribute to heart attack and heart disease.”
Living with a smoker can be equally harmful to non-smokers because they are exposed to the same chemicals as the smokers and these toxins remain as residue on surfaces that even weekly cleaning cannot totally remove. Not enough is known about secondhand vapor exposure at this time, but the devices do emit residue that will collect on surfaces. How these residues react over time is still not known.
Be good to your heart and the hearts of your loved ones by quitting tobacco and nicotine products.
Click on the highlighted links to read more about smoking and the heart.