We all know that smoking is bad for your breathing, your lungs, and causes cancer, but do you know what it means for your heart?
Globally, smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths, and recent state reports that nearly 3,000 deaths a year in the United Arab Emirates are smoking-related.
Smoking impacts your entire body, from your skin and teeth, to your lungs and heart.
Smoking and your heart
Every time you light up, you’re causing structural changes to both your heart and the blood it pumps around your body, compromising their ability to function properly. Individually, and cumulatively, this leads to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, including coronary heart disease and stroke.
Smoking has many effects on the body and heart, including:
- Damage to the artery walls, allowing the buildup of plaque and the subsequent clogging of the arteries.
- Decrease in oxygen levels in the blood, making the heart work harder to supply your body with the oxygen it requires.
- Reduction in blood supply, causing stiffness or thickening in the blood vessels, which restricts their ability to expand and contract.
- Increase in blood pressure and heart rate.
- Makes blood sticky and increases cholesterol, making blood clotting more likely which can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
Reversing the effects
There’s no denying that the harm caused to your heart by smoking is serious, but the flip side to this is that the damage can be reversed by giving up smoking. Quitting your tobacco habit – whether it’s cigarettes, shisha, e-cigs, or medwakh – will benefit your heart with almost immediate effect.
- Just 20 minutes after you stop smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure decrease.
- Your first tobacco-free day also sees nicotine and carbon monoxide levels drop, while oxygen returns to an almost normal level.
- Longer term, there are even bigger benefits to be gained from quitting smoking. A year after stopping, your risk of developing heart disease is half that of someone who has continued to smoke, and after 15 years your heart attack risk is the same as someone who has never smoked.
Support in quitting
Giving up smoking is by no means easy, but the benefits of doing so extend beyond your heart to your overall health. If you are planning to stop smoking, consider a smoking cessation program, which improves your chances of successfully giving up in the short and long term.