How Smoking Raises Heart Disease Risk | Heart Disease

How Smoking Raises Heart Disease Risk | Heart Disease


How does smoking increase the risk of heart
disease? Smoking has been one of the risk factors that’s
most well-established for the development of heart disease and the buildup of atherosclerotic
or cholesterol plaques in the arteries of the heart. The link between smoking and heart attack
and stroke has been very strongly established in the medical literature. How does smoking lead to the buildup of cholesterol
plaque in the arteries? It’s a pretty complicated mechanism, but some
of the basics we know. When people smoke, it increases the likelihood
that cholesterol in the blood will be taken up into the arteries of the heart. In addition, it increases the inflammation
of the arteries of the heart. If we take a campfire analogy of coronary
atherosclerosis, we can consider the artery as the campfire and every time you smoke,
it’s like taking a little squirt of lighter fluid and adding it to the campfire. Each time, you get a little burst of inflammation
and that causes a little more damage. This is a very simplistic way of looking at
things, but helps give us a visual of what might be going on in the arteries of the heart
when someone smokes. Not only has the link between smoking and
heart disease been well-established, but the amount you smoke makes a real difference. With each additional cigarette per day, we’ve
been able to show an increased rate of heart attack and stroke. The flip side of that coin, is as anyone reduces
the amount they smoke, their risk of heart disease dramatically reduces. Stopping smoking is one of the single best
ways for someone to reduce their risk of heart disease, stroke, or heart attack. So, smoking, can be said to directly lead
to the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque in the arteries.

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