Cardiovascular Distress: How Smoking Affects Your Heart


Many smokers are unaware of how seriously smoking can affect your cardiovascular system. Smoking is proven to cause serious and even fatal internal damage. And, it can impact the wellness of those around you. At the Cardiovascular Institute of the South, we strive to help prevent negative health events through education, management, and diagnostics. Learn more about how smoking affects your heart and how you can find solutions for quitting with medical assistance.

How Smoking Tobacco Negatively Affects Your Heart Health

Smoking and secondhand smoke exposure can contribute to full-body health concerns. From increasing the possibility of cancer and respiratory infections to chronic bronchitis, smoking tobacco puts you and those around you in the path of immediate risk. And statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the impacts of tobacco are staggering. An estimated 16 million Americans have smoking-related diseases. In the United States, smoking causes over 480,000 deaths annually with at least 41,000 of these caused by secondhand smoke.

At the Cardiovascular Institute of the South, we are especially concerned with how smoking affects your heart and cardiovascular system. Many health issues can be caused or exacerbated by smoking tobacco. With abstinence from tobacco, these conditions can be prevented.


Tobacco is packed with toxic chemicals. By smoking or using other tobacco products, these chemicals move through your bloodstream and cause damage as they circulate. This can increase levels of “bad” cholesterol in your system as well as raise your blood pressure. And, these chemicals can make blood clots form more easily in your bloodstream. These factors can lead to an ischemic stroke where a blood clot forms in the brain and blocks blood flow. And not only can smoking increase your risk of stroke, but it can also make your chances of suffering a fatal stroke twice as likely.

Heart Failure

The same factors that contribute to a stroke can also lead to a heart attack. Smoking can decrease blood flow throughout your body and lead to high blood pressure. If blood flow is blocked from the heart, this can lead to numerous conditions including heart failure, heart attack, and arrhythmia. And tobacco isn’t solely a danger to heart health for smokers. Secondhand smoke alone causes approximately 34,000 deaths from heart attacks in the United States each year. Symptoms of heart failure can include fatigue, swelling in the lower extremities, shortness of breath, and a higher heart rate.

Peripheral Arterial Disease

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) develops due to the narrowing of one’s arteries. Smoking can contribute to the tightening of your arteries through inflammation. Patients with PAD may experience numbness or cramping in their limbs, slower hair or nail growth of their lower extremities, or no pulse in their feet and legs. This condition can call for amputation of the affected limbs or add to one’s risk of stroke or heart attack.

Commit to a Tobacco-Free Lifestyle

Cutting out tobacco can have a major impact on your overall wellness. At the Cardiovascular Institute of the South, we don’t just provide resources for heart health. We can help you discover a comprehensive approach to going tobacco-free. From medical treatment to support groups and more, we can work with you as you commit to quitting tobacco. Know that going tobacco-free is possible. Read patient success stories or request an appointment with us to start your quit journey today!

If you are a new patient with Cardiovascular Institute of the South, we look forward to helping you achieve greater heart health and prevent risks and concerns. Find your nearest clinic location in Louisiana or Mississippi to get started. Or if you are ready to schedule, request an appointment with us online. From diagnostic services to our smoking cessation program, we can help you establish healthy habits to last all year long!

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CIS Staff

Written by CIS Staff