Cigars and Cardio: The Effects of Smoking on your Heart

heart smokers

For years, we’ve all heard that smoking is bad for us and causes a plethora of diseases. Here is a breakdown of what happens every time you light up, as well as the effects smoking has on the human body, or more specifically, the heart.

Just one cigar or cigarette is enough to cause changes in and damage to your body. From the time you take that first puff, your blood pressure rises, your blood vessels constrict, and the chemical makeup of your brain is altered due to the drug nicotine that is found in virtually all cigarettes. If you smoke a few times, you’ll discover that the nicotine delivers a pleasant head rush. This is what gets people hooked on cigarettes. Unfortunately, that pleasant head rush no longer occurs once you’ve had more than a few cigarettes. Once you’re hooked on smoking, the cravings for cigarettes come from all the chemicals found in them, particularly the nicotine, as well as the false “calming” sense that some people claim smoking gives them. For others, smoking becomes a needed occupation for their hands, while others may begin smoking due to the need to “fit in”. While it’s much easier to become hooked on smoking than it is to break the habit, discovering the effects of smoking on your heart should be enough to make anyone stop immediately.

While heart disease can be caused by a variety of things, smoking is by far one of the most insidious causes. Smoking clogs arteries, makes the heart work harder, increases blood pressure, decreases the body’s oxygen levels, introduces the poisonous gas carbon monoxide into the body, and makes your chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke more likely. Smoking causes these maladies by helping the body form clots, which in turn can cause a heart attack or stroke. Smoking can also disrupt the natural rhythms of the heart, such as afibrillation, tachycardia, bradycardia, and heart palpitations. Afibrillation, also known as A-fib, is particularly dangerous in that it often causes no symptoms. When a person does feel symptoms, they are typically heart palpitations (a rapid, fluttering, or “skipped” heartbeat), dizziness, and fainting. Tachycardia, which is an abnormally fast heartbeat, and bradycardia, an abnormally slow heartbeat, can also be fatal if not detected and treated properly. Since the heart and brain are intrinsically connected as part of the body’s vascular system, it’s safe to say that whatever affects the heart also affects the brain. The best way to prevent all of this is simple: Don’t begin smoking in the first place. If you do smoke, find a way to quit. Medications, therapy, and a support system can all work wonders if you decide to quit.