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Today, it’s well known that smoking is detrimental to your health. In most campaigns for quitting, you’ll see people with emphysema or an artificial larynx to help them speak after a laryngectomy. You’re also warned of the severe effects on your lungs and heart. You may not, however, be familiar with how smoking affects your veins.
Cigarettes are made up of over 7,000 chemicals, many of which are harmful to us. These chemicals can be carcinogenic, meaning they’re linked to cancer. They’re also known to be cardiovascular toxicants, developmental or reproductive toxicants, respiratory toxicants, and addictive.
When these chemicals are introduced into your body, they constrict your veins, making it more difficult for blood to flow as it should. Restricted blood flow can lead to blood pooling in your veins, causing varicose and spider veins, as well as high blood pressure.
Smoking also puts you at a higher risk of developing peripheral arterial disease (PAD), in which a buildup of plaque in your arteries interferes with blood flow to your limbs. This often causes claudication, a condition characterized by leg pain while walking. PAD can likely be an indicator of atherosclerosis, another condition linked to smoking, in which fatty deposits build up in your arteries and cause them to narrow.
The narrowing, thickening, and stiffening of your veins because of smoking leads to insufficient blood flow to your arms and legs, called peripheral vascular disease (PVD). Once this condition develops, you may experience claudication and sometimes open sores on your legs that don’t heal. Poor blood flow can also affect your ability to heal from cuts.
In addition to the aforementioned conditions, smoking can cause other serious conditions that can be irreversible and life-threatening.
When atherosclerosis advances, it becomes coronary artery disease. This disease affects the arteries that carry blood to your heart. The arteries narrow and become blocked by the buildup of plaque from atherosclerosis, limiting the blood flow to your heart, or stopping it completely.
The primary artery that carries blood throughout your body is called the aorta. This long artery is divided into four sections, including the abdominal aorta, which sits in your abdomen. Smoking causes a bulge to form in your abdominal aorta, putting it at risk of bursting. Should it burst, the result can be sudden death.
There are so many reasons to quit smoking. Take charge of your health today by exploring some of the many options for smoking cessation. If you’re a long-term smoker, consider coming into Vascular Vein Centers to get checked out by one of our expert providers. With several offices in Central Florida, we’re never too far away. Give us a call, or request an appointment online through our website.