Lifestyle Heart Health

The Link Between Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease

Smoking has many adverse effects on cardiovascular health. Study after study demonstrates the damaging, lasting impact it can have on our hearts and circulation systems. Research has shown that smoking increases your risk of developing various cardiovascular conditions and worsens existing heart problems. Understanding the connection between smoking and cardiovascular health is critical to helping people make informed decisions about their health. Let's break down what we know about this relationship.

Each year, 800,000 lives are taken in the United States by cardiovascular disease. Of those fatalities, a staggering 20 percent can be attributed to smoking-related illnesses - underscoring just how serious of an issue it is for public health and safety.

What Cardiovascular Conditions Can Result from Smoking?


Atherosclerosis is a condition where plaque builds up in arteries and restricts blood flow to vital organs. As a result, you have issues like chest pain or stroke. Smoking increases a person's risk for atherosclerosis due to the nicotine, tar, and other chemicals in cigarettes. These chemicals cause damage to artery walls, leading to plaque buildup that further restricts blood flow.

High Blood Pressure

Smoking also increases the risk of high blood pressure by constricting the blood vessels, thus raising the pressure within them. This increase in pressure puts extra strain on your heart, making it work harder than necessary. Over time, this can lead to severe cardiovascular issues such as arrhythmia, coronary heart disease, stroke, or even a heart attack.


Arrhythmia is an abnormal heartbeat rhythm caused when electrical signals controlling your heartbeat are disrupted by certain factors such as caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol. Smoking tobacco increases your risk for arrhythmia because nicotine further disrupts these electrical signals, which can lead to problems with your heartbeat rate and rhythm.

Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease occurs when plaque builds up in arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle and restricts or blocks blood flow. As a result, less oxygen-rich blood can reach your heart muscle, leading to severe complications such as chest pain or even death if left untreated. Smoking increases your risk for this type of heart disease because toxic chemicals in cigarettes damage artery walls, making them more prone to plaque buildup.

Stroke & Heart Attack

Smoking also increases your risk for stroke and/or heart attack due to its effect on narrowing arteries, reducing oxygen-rich blood flow throughout your body, including those supplying vital organs like your brain and your heart. Without adequate oxygen supply, these organs can become damaged, leading to strokes or even complete organ failure resulting in death if not treated quickly enough. Additionally, carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke decreases the oxygen carried by red blood cells, which further contributes to these life-threatening conditions associated with tobacco products.

Heart Failure & Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

Lastly, smoking increases the risks of congestive heart failure (CHF) and peripheral arterial disease (PAD). CHF occurs when weakened muscles in the left ventricle cannot pump adequate amounts of oxygenated blood throughout your body. At the same time, PAD happens when narrowed arteries reduce circulation leading to numbness or weakness in legs or arms due to poor oxygen supply and increased risks for stroke & coronary artery diseases mentioned earlier.

Fortunately, quitting smoking can reduce your risk for all these conditions significantly. Research shows that:

  • after 5 years without smoking, your chance of suffering from a heart attack returns almost back to normal levels;
  • after 10 years, your chance of having a stroke returns to normal;
  • after 15 years, your chance of getting cancer returns to normal;
  • after 20 years, you will have the same risk level as someone who has never smoked!

How You Can Quit Smoking To Improve Your Heart Health

Quitting smoking isn't easy, but it's worth it to improve your overall health—especially when it comes to protecting your heart health! If you want to quit smoking, one of the best things you can do is find support from people who have already been through the process. Additionally, talk therapy or group sessions with a healthcare professional can be very helpful in helping you adjust to life without cigarettes. Also, plenty of online programs are available to help people quit smoking. It may also help to track how much money you save by not buying cigarettes!

The connection between smoking and cardiovascular health is clear - smokers are at an increased risk for developing several different cardiac conditions. Fortunately, quitting smoking can reduce this risk substantially over time. There are lots of resources available that can help make quitting easier - all that's left is taking the first step towards better health!

Respectfully yours,