How smoking affects your heart

Posted by Dr. Robert Kelly


smoking effects on the heart
Image credit: Ferran Jordà | Flickr


Smoking is bad for your health no matter what way you wish to look at it.

It is bad for your heart because it increases your risk of having a heart attack. Nicotine and toxins in cigarettes narrow your blood vessels and disturb blood flow and plaque build up which leads to heart symptoms like chest pain and subsequent heart attacks.

Smoking also affects blood vessels elsewhere in your body to increase your risk of having a stroke, developing vascular dementia; developing circulation problems in your legs that sometimes lead to you needing part of your leg to be amputated.

If the evidence is not strong enough to encourage you not to smoke or to give up smoking then consider the risk of developing cancer from smoking; the damage to your appearance, your skin, your ability to breath, your ability to live life.

Stop smoking – its the only solution

Stopping smoking is hard but the benefits are enormous: most of all a better chance of longer healthier life. Stopping smoking at any age is beneficial.

If at first you don’t succeed try try again and try harder…

The best way to stop is willpower. Surely the danger of heart disease, a stroke, dementia, cancer can motivate most people to stop smoking

Replacing cigarette with an apple, glass water to have something in hand /mouth helps; nicotine replacement (gum, spray, patch) can help; acupuncture, hypnosis, laser are other options too. Zyban treatment (a drug to help brain cravings for nicotine) works for some people. This can be discussed with chemist or GP.

Resources to help quit smoking

Allan Clarkes book on stopping smoking is great resource that has helped many people get off smoking.

There are good resources online, GP , HSE to help stop smoking…..just make decision to stop and stick by it.

As a cardiologist I see lots of smokers aged from 20-100 years who smoke and have heart attacks /strokes and several who die young. I have treated 30 year old smokers with stents who have sudden potentially fatal heart attacks just because of smoking…

As a cardiologist I encourage all patients to stop smoking. My approach is encouragement, trying to appeal to reason; keep trying and trying until you succeed; this is important because many go out for a night to the pub and smoke a few cigarettes and then fall back into bad habits; one bad night can be compensated for by continuing fight of stopping smoking by starting again next day after you get out of bed….over time cravings go away and health continues to improve.