How does Smoking Affect- Your Body, Heart, Respiratory System

Smoking is the act of inhaling and then exhaling the smoke of burning tobacco via cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and hookah.

People who are addicted to smoking are vulnerable to developing a wide range of conditions, some of which can be life-threatening, including long-term cases of cough and cold, severe respiratory diseases and infections, cancer, cardiovascular disorders, heart problems, and permanent damage to the lungs, pancreas, kidneys, and liver.

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Effects of Smoking on the Heart

  • Smoking can trigger a wide range of cardiovascular conditions. It can harm the cardiac blood vessels, the heart itself, and other related organs. Coronary disease is one of the most widespread causes of fatality via smoking.
    • Some of the common cardiovascular ailments experienced by smokers include high blood pressure, extreme hypertension, coronary heart diseases, coronary thrombosis, and cerebral thrombosis. Smokers are also prone to peripheral vascular disease, a condition characterized by blockage in the legs.
    • Tobacco has a component called nicotine which triggers an increase in the levels of blood cholesterol. High blood cholesterol can clog the arteries and lead to development of thickened, inflexible, and constricted arteries.
      • The arteries assist the heart in circulating blood throughput the body. Nicotine, carbon monoxide, and other chemicals occurring in tobacco smoke harden the arteries and cause a condition known as atherosclerosis.The toxins trigger the accumulation of cholesterol and harm the inner lining of the coronary arteries, which eventually cause blood clots and obstruction in arteries. All these harmful effects reduces the flow of oxygen to the heart and increases the risk to heart attacks, some of which may prove to be fatal.
      • Smoking also increases the susceptibility to the occurrence of a condition called abdominal aortic aneurysm; it causes inflammation, weakening, and swelling of the aorta. It also increases the risk to stroke and other cerebrovascular ailments.
      • Tobacco smoke has carbon monoxide. As compared to oxygen, it can cling to hemoglobin, a lot faster and more efficiently, and thus easily replace the blood oxygen percentage. Subsequently, the brain and heart get reduced amounts of oxygen leading to abnormal functioning and other issues of these 2 vital organs.

Effects of Smoking on the Respiratory System

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  • Development of cancer is the number one harmful effect of smoking.
    • Debris and other tar particles get deposited in the respiratory system, especially in the fragile lung tissue, due to smoking. It attaches to the alveoli and thus limits the contact of the blood vessels with the surface of the lungs. Benzopyrene, a part of tar, is known to induce cancer.
    • Smokers are ten times more likely to suffer from cases of lung cancer than those who do not smoke. They are also more vulnerable to developing cancer of other glands and organs of the respiratory system, including throat cancer, mouth cancer, esophageal cancer, pharynx cancer, and larynx cancer.
    • Cancer of the oral cavity is the most common form of cancer that afflicts smokers. Ex-smokers need to completely abstain from smoking for at least 15 years before they can be considered as non-susceptible to development of lung cancer.
    • Smoking can cause numerous lung conditions, including emphysema, COPD/ chronic obstructive lung disease, and bronchitis. There is rapid decline in normal lung function in smokers by nearly 300 percent. The lungs have to work a lot harder and hence breathlessness and other breathing problems are widespread amongst smokers. They feel out of breath after running for only a few minutes.
    • Smoking introduces hydrogen cyanide, a potent toxin, into the respiratory system. It damages the clearance function of the lungs, thereby increasing the risk to accumulation of oxidizing agents, hydrocarbons, and nitrous oxides within the lungs. These chemicals can harm the blood vessels and the cardiac system, leading to heart diseases and stroke.
    • Hot tobacco fumes tend to irritate the fragile tracheal walls as well as the nasal passageways, resulting in persistent throat inflammation. Tar and other hazardous chemicals also overrun the pulmonary cilia, damage it, and decrease its fluidity, finally resulting in irritation, deposition of mucus, and “smoker’s cough.”
    • Frequent and long-term smokers can experience narrowing of the pulmonary airways. This can then pose increased risk to occurrence of lung infections.
    • Smoking tends to aggravate a pre-existing case of asthma. It can also severely worsen inflammation and swelling of the airways.

Effects of Smoking on the Body

  • Mild effects of smoking include development of stains on the teeth, gums, and fingernails; development of oral cavity ulcers; perennial acidic flavor in the mouth; and loose teeth, bad breath, and inflamed, swollen gums.
  • Smoking tends to cause reactions in the body which then may result in increased production of adrenaline and cortisol hormones. This can eventually lead to hormonal imbalance in the body.
  • Excessive smoking for several years can increase the risk to development of cataract. It can cause macular degeneration, slowly leading to loss of sight.
  • Smokers may experience a reduction in their bone density. This can then adversely affect the bone marrow, cause elevated blood clotting, and eventually weaken the immune system.
  • The skin tends to get decreased amounts of blood and vitamin A, thereby increasing the risk to premature aging, pale skin, and wrinkle formation.
  • Smokers are prone to varied health problems and diseases such as tuberculosis, Crohn’s disease, diabetic retinopathy, and multiple sclerosis.
  • In addition to cancers of the respiratory system, smoking can cause cancers of numerous other organs. Smoking can increase the risk to acute myeloid leukemia and cancers of the cervix, bladder, stomach, kidney, pancreas, and uterus.
  • Smoking can increase the susceptibility to developing sexual dysfunction and other sexual disorders. Individuals addicted to smoking are more likely to suffer from fertility problems and sexual performance abnormalities. Women smokers may become infertile.
  • Smoking during pregnancy can pose elevated risk to numerous pregnancy and health-related complications, including detachment of the placenta, low birth weight, stillborn baby, pre-term childbirth, bleeding, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, congenital deformities like cleft palate, and infertility in the future.
  • Passive smoking by infants, babies, and young children can increase their risk to varied conditions such as asthma, infections of the ear, nose, and chest, and SUDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.


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