Smoking Blood Circulation And Heart Health

Smoking and heart health are linked in several ways. The effects of smoking on the heart include an elevated risk of atherosclerosis, which may lead to arterial blockage and potential heart disease. Smoking also reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to the body’s systems, which may increase the likelihood of blood clots. The connection between smoking and blood clots links smoking to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Smoking and its Effects on the Heart

Smoking is a leading cause of the fatty build-up in the arteries that can lead to atherosclerosis, a condition that occurs when healthy artery linings deteriorate, which causes artery walls to thicken with plaque and fatty deposits. This narrowing of the available space in blood vessels slows blood flow, limiting delivery of oxygen to cells, including those of the heart. Therefore, the heart must work harder in order to circulate the blood. Extra blockages can cause chest pain, damage to the heart muscle and even heart attacks.

But this isn’t the only negative link between smoking and heart-related diseases. The same arterial build up can also affect the blood vessels that carry blood to the extremities, such as the arms and legs. This condition, also known as peripheral artery disease, may cause painful cramping of the leg muscles and can also lead to stroke.

Smoking and Blood Problems

The effects of smoking on the heart extend beyond the arteries and the heart itself. In addition to increased risk of heart disease, smoking can lower HDL cholesterol levels in the blood, which may cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate.

Other links between smoking and blood problems involve the toxins in cigarettes and cigarette smoke–such as carbon monoxide–and how these toxins may prevent the blood from delivering oxygen to various systems of the body. Smoking can also worsen your blood clotting ability, and this can lead to heart attacks and strokes. In addition, smokers are more likely to develop coronary artery disease after bypass surgery.

When it comes to heart disease, smoking and its effects on the heart, no amount of smoking is safe. Even one cigarette can be damaging, and the longer you smoke, the greater the risk to your cardiovascular system. Even secondhand smoke may be damaging.


American Heart Association. (2010). Cigarette smoking and cardiovascular disease. Retrieved October 3, 2010, from

Cleveland Clinic. (2010). Smoking and heart disease. Retrieved September 29, 2010, from

Health Cares. (2005). Smoking and cardiovascular disease. Retrieved October 3, 2010, from