Many individuals understand that smoking can cause lung cancer; however, few realize that smoking harms every organ in your body, including your heart. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, and abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Smoking makes the heart work harder by increasing your heart rate, tightening major arteries, and potentially causing irregular heart rhythm. Chemicals found in cigarette smoke can lead to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which could injure the vessel walls, affect levels of cholesterol and fibrinogen (important for blood-clotting), and possibly lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Many of the same harmful chemicals that people inhale when they smoke are also found in secondhand smoke. These chemicals can harm the hearts and blood vessels of individuals exposed to secondhand smoke in the same way that active smoking does. Secondhand smoke also increases the risk of future coronary heart disease among children and teens because it lowers HDL (good) cholesterol, raises blood pressure, and damages heart tissue.
Right away, quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke can help reverse heart and blood vessel damage and reduce heart disease risk. While quitting may seem difficult, here are some great facts from the US Department of Health & Human Services to keep you motivated:
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