What are the Effects of Smoking on the Cardiovascular System?

tobacco-and-cardiovascular-diseaseWe all know that smoking is harmful to health, especially to the health of our respiratory systems. It’s a statistical fact that cigarette smoking is the one of the key factors that directly results in lung cancer. Unfortunately, besides of lungs smoking also affect other organs, in particular the cardiovascular system. Clinical data shows that the effects of smoking can be superimposed on hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and other risk factors in vascular occlusive diseases. And here are the specific adverse effects of smoking on cardiovascular system.

Directly damaging the vascular endothelial system

Toxins in smoking cigarettes can inhibit the biological activity of nitric oxide synthase, which thus reduces nitric oxide biosynthesis and bioavailability. These effects will directly lead to impaired vascular endothelial function, increased apoptosis of endothelial cells and endothelial progenitor cells, inhibition of endothelial cell growth and differentiation of progenitor cells into endothelial cells, and an overall destruction of the vascular endothelial system.

Directly inducing vascular thrombosis

Platelets isolated from the blood of smokers have shown inclination toward high level of aggregation and spontaneous aggregation. And blood of smokers has higher levels of fibrinogen and tissue factor activity, which can inhibit the anti-clotting ability of endothelial cell. In addition, smoking causes slow microcirculation. All these mechanisms work together to promote and induce thrombosis and, worse still, they increase the process of thrombus by limiting the degradation of blood clots.

Causing inflammation of the vessel wall

Smoking causes elevated white blood cell count and increased capacity of leukocyte adhesion to vascular endothelium and infiltration to the vessel wall, which could destroy the elastic fibers of great vessels and induce expansion resembling to coronary artery ectasia. At the same time, there is a significant increase in the level of markers inside the smokers, including c-reactive protein, interleukin-6, Tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and so on. These factors will accelerate the development of atherosclerosis in small and middle arteries, and thus result in stenosis or occlusion due to vessel wall hyperplasia.

Directly affecting the body’s lipid metabolism

Smoking will affect lipid metabolism and promote the progress of atherosclerosis. Compared to those non-smokers, smokers have reduced high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels and much higher levels of plasma cholesterol, triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in blood. Among them, inside smokers’ body LDL is more easily oxidized into ox-LDL with higher toxicity, which can promote the occurrence of atherosclerosis.


In addition, smoking can also cause other diseases and increase the incidence of vascular disease. To sum up, all these following smoking-induced risks are direct factors for cardiovascular disease.

1. Increase the apoptosis of islet β-cells;
2. Cause fast heart rate;
3. Elevate blood sugar;
4. Reduce cardiac output and coronary blood flow;
5. Cause insulin resistance;
6. Reduce the amount of oxygen transported to the tissues of the body;
7. Increase angiotensin activity;
8. Change blood vessels and blood cells characteristics, which results in the deposition of cholesterol and other fatty substances. This is also known as atherosclerosis;
9. Raise blood pressure in the short term or long term;
10. Increase the risk of thrombosis;
11. Bring damage to blood vessels;
12. Double the risk of ischemic stroke;
13. Relate to agitated depression and mental disorders.

Besides of posing health risks on the cardiovascular system, cigarette smoking can also affect other parts of the body too. For example, it is thought to be linked to a higher risk of breast cancer, hemorrhoids, and even directly causes a number of diseases.

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