What Can Smoking Do to Your Circulatory System?

It was discovered during the latter-half of the 20th century that smoking is not a healthy social habit. The American Heart Association reports that smoking is one of the most preventable causes of death. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 443,000 Americans die each year from smoking-related complications. Smoking adversely affects every part of your body, including the circulatory system. The circulatory system is comprised of the blood vessels, muscles and organs that transport blood throughout your body.

Smoking reduces your blood flow.


There are several toxins in smoking products that can wreak havoc on your body. Such toxins are even more potent when they are combined together in cigarettes. According to the Better Health Channel, these toxins include carbon monoxide, free radicals, hydrogen cyanide, metals such as lead, radioactive compounds and tar. Carbon monoxide directly affects your blood by inhibiting the transportation of oxygen to your organs. Free radicals raise your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, thereby raising your total cholesterol level.

Reduced Circulation

Toxins in cigarettes, particularly carbon monoxide and free radicals, inhibit your blood from flowing through the body. The CDC explains that this is caused by a narrowing of the blood vessels. All major organs, such as the brain and heart, the muscles and tissues in the body all rely on proper blood circulation in order to receive oxygen and nutrients. Other organs such as the liver require proper circulation in order to transport toxins out of the body.


Reduced blood circulation affects your body in numerous ways. According to the Better Health Channel, reduced circulation causes high blood pressure, increased heart rate, blood clots, arterial wall buildup and decreased body temperature. In addition, decreased blood circulation can cause problems in your toes and fingers; amputation may be required in severe cases.

Potential Complications

The CDC reports that smoking directly causes coronary heart disease, which is the No. 1 cause of death among Americans. Smoking's effects on the circulatory system also leads to peripheral vascular disease, stroke, heart attack and abdominal aortic aneurysm. According to the American Heart Association, women should not use oral contraceptives such as the pill. Oral contraceptives increase your risk of heart disease and stroke alone; therefore smoking increases this risk even further.

Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke also puts your circulatory system at risk. The American Heart Association estimates that up to 69,600 blood vessel and heart disease-related annual deaths are related to secondhand smoke. Keep in mind that if you quit smoking, you still put yourself at risk if you are around people who smoke.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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