Smoking is one of the largest contributing factors to heart and circulatory diseases. Smoking is not just bad for you, but it’s also for the people around you. Breathing in second-hand smoke can increase the chances of getting cancers or other respiratory problems.

Every cigarette contains approximately 4,000 chemicals and many of these chemicals are harmful to your health. Chemicals like carbon monoxide, nicotine and tar are poisonous to your body. Here are some of the harmful effects smoking can have on your heart health.

Harmful Effects of Smoking

Reduces Blood Oxygen Levels

Smoking contains chemicals like Carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas that reduces your blood oxygen levels, this condition is called Hypoxemia. In mild cases, Hypoxemia causes headaches and shortness of breath, but in more severe cases, it can cause problems with brain function and the cardiovascular system.

Increases Risk of Cancer

Cigarettes contain tar, a toxic chemical that creates a sticky brown layer around your lungs. When you smoke a cigarette around ⅔ of the tar stays back in your lungs and over time the deposit of this sticky brown residue can lead to Cancer. Tar coats the alveoli, the part of the lungs that absorb the oxygen you breathe, and makes it difficult for gas exchange to take place.

Increases Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

Nicotine is the addictive chemical found in cigarettes, it causes your blood pressure and heart rate to elevate. Nicotine also contributes to the hardening of the arterial walls which can cause a heart attack.

All these chemicals in cigarettes cause fatty deposits on the walls of your arteries, making it difficult for oxygen-rich blood to reach all parts of your body. Blockages in your arteries can cause a stroke or a heart attack. But don’t worry, it’s never too late to quit. Here is how your body starts to repair itself once you quit smoking.

Benefits of Quitting Smoking

48 - 72 hours After Quitting

Within 72 hours of not smoking, you will notice a heightened sense of smell and taste. This is because the damage that smoking caused to the nerve endings of your mouth and nose is slowly being repaired.

2 Weeks After Quitting

Even if you have been smoking for decades, after about 2 weeks of not smoking you will notice you have better energy levels and exercise should be easier. This is because blood circulation in your body has improved.

After a Few Months

You will start to notice your chest feeling lighter and breathing will become easier, at this point your lungs have started to repair the damage. The alveoli in your lungs are cleaning up and have started to work more efficiently, allowing you to breathe easy.

1 Year Later

After a year of not smoking, you have halved your risk of having a stroke or other coronary heart diseases. The risk of having a heart attack dramatically drops as well.

5 Years Later

After 5 years of not smoking your lungs would have managed to clean up and your risk of cancers and heart disease drops to that of a non-smoker.

There are a number of adverse effects smoking has on your body and especially your heart health, but the human body is very good at repairing the damage. So if you decide to quit smoking and give your body some time to recover, you will be able to lead a healthy life and improve your heart health.