How Nicotine and Tobacco Affect Your Heart

If you smoke cigarettes or use other products that contain nicotine, you’re probably aware of the risks that these behaviors place on your lungs. However, many people who use nicotine are surprised to learn that it can also have a toxic and dangerous effect on your heart and blood vessels. 

At The Center for Vascular Care at HCA, our specialists are committed to working with patients to treat and manage cardiovascular disease (CD) and peripheral artery disease (PAD). We also help patients change their lifestyle to manage symptoms and prevent disease progression, such as nicotine cessation. Here’s what you need to know about how nicotine affects your heart.

What Effect Does Nicotine Have on the Heart?

Nicotine has a wide range of effects on the heart. As a stimulant, nicotine causes an increase in your blood pressure and heart rate and a narrowing of your blood vessels, which can cause poor blood circulation. When nicotine speeds up your heart rate, it can cause abnormal heart rhythms. Nicotine is also thought to contribute to the hardening of your blood vessels and the development of blood clots, both of which can lead to a higher risk of heart attack or stroke. In fact, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), nearly one-third of deaths from cardiovascular disease are related to either smoking or secondhand smoke.

Why Should You Quit Nicotine and Tobacco Products?

In any given year, anywhere from one-third to one-half of smokers in the US try to quit smoking, but less than ten percent succeed. This is because nicotine is a highly addictive substance. Nicotine stays in your system for 6 to 8 hours, so many people who smoke have continuous levels of nicotine in their bloodstream. When they try to quit, they can experience withdrawal symptoms. Even when you want to stop using nicotine, it can be very difficult to do so without the proper support system and program in place.

Why Should You Quit Using Nicotine and Tobacco Products?

Simply put, tobacco is toxic. According to the AHA, long-term side effects of tobacco use include coronary heart disease, stroke, and an array of cancers, ranging from lung and bladder cancer to kidney and pancreatic cancer. In fact, even though smoking rates have decreased, smoking is still considered the most preventable cause of death in the US.

How Can You Get Help With Smoking Cessation?

At The Center for Vascular Care at HCA, our team is dedicated to supporting patients and providing them with the resources they need to take control of their heart health. Fundamental to this mission is helping our patients stop smoking. Our Nicotine Cessation Program is specifically designed to help you quit using products that have nicotine once and for all. Contact us to make an appointment to discuss your treatment options with one of our specialists today.