One in five deaths in the U.S. is caused by cigarette smoking. It is the most preventable cause of death in the United States.
Studies have shown there to be a connection between peripheral artery disease (PAD) and smoking. PAD is a chronic and common circulatory condition in which the arteries in the body become more narrow. The link between PAD and smoking is stronger than those of heart disease and stroke.
No matter how much you smoke, even if it’s only an occasional cigarette, you are at a higher risk for causing damage to your heart and blood vessels. Individuals with other health conditions, such as diabetes, who also smoke, significantly increase their risk for developing circulation related complications.
Exposure to secondhand smoke can also result in damage to the heart and blood vessels of non-smokers as it contains the same dangerous chemicals that are inhaled by cigarette smokers. Secondhand smoke can also increase the risk of developing PAD.
Peripheral Artery Disease: The Chemicals in Cigarettes are Very Damaging
The chemicals present in cigarette tobacco cause damage to blood cells and the structure of the blood vessels themselves. The aftermath of this damage is what ultimately causes atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty deposits within the blood vessels.
The accumulation of these fatty deposits is what causes the vessels to become more narrow, thus causing a decrease in blood flow to all areas of the body.
Of the 4,000 chemicals present in cigarettes, Nicotine is the most widely known. Nicotine increases your heart rate, increases blood pressure, and causes your arteries to narrow. In addition, Nicotine is also responsible for causing a release of fat into the bloodstream that ultimately leads to the hardening of the arteries.
Peripheral Artery Disease: Smoking Affects Your Brain
Smoking affects the arteries throughout the body, including those in the brain. Fatty deposits in the brain can lead to stroke which can cause loss of speech, paralysis, and even death.
These same deposits in the legs can cause pain, non-healing or slow to heal wounds and ulcers, which all stem from a decrease in blood flow. If not managed properly, these symptoms can lead to infections like gangrene or even amputation.
Peripheral Artery Disease: Lower Your Risk and Quit Now
If you want to lower the risks of developing PAD, heart disease, and stroke, it is important to quit smoking now. Not only do you need to avoid smoking cigarettes, but you also need to limit exposure to secondhand smoke.
The effects of smoking cessation will be apparent in as little as 48 hours of quitting – your blood pressure and heart rate will lower and you will have a more balanced level of carbon monoxide in your blood stream.
Within one year of quitting, the functionality of your lungs will improve but it can take up to 30 years to completely return to a baseline of risk for developing PAD and other heart related diseases.
It is possible to quit smoking. It is important to speak to your health care provider about the programs and strategies available to stop smoking. Your health is important. Take charge of your life and quit smoking today.
Think You May Have Peripheral Artery Disease?
If you have Peripheral Artery Disease or you identify with any symptom(s) don’t delay, contact Alabama Vascular & Lymphatic Specialists today. Your life may depend on it.
We provide the most comprehensive, progressive, and personal care available for Peripheral Artery Disease in the Birmingham, Alabama area. During your visit our specialist(s) will review your medical history and develop a treatment plan to get you on the path to better health.