Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Nicotine Products' Impact On Bloodstream Ships

Nicotine can affect the blood vessels in the human body in several ways. For the most part, nicotine's effect upon blood vessels is negative; but, perhaps surprisingly, there's also a positive effect that in the future may cause nicotine to be used as a therapeutic drug.

The Bad

For users of products containing nicotine, the news is mostly bad. Nicotine affects the blood vessels negatively in both a short-term and a long-term manner.

Nicotine helps to raise the level of LDL cholesterol, which is the "bad" cholesterol. Over time, this will increase the degree to which the linings of the interior walls of blood vessels become coated with plaque. As plaque builds throughout the years, the gradual narrowing of the blood vessels increases the risk of a heart attack. The accumulation of plaque also increases the risk of stroke.

Nicotine also causes blood vessels to constrict. The resulting restriction of blood flow through constricted vessels causes an increase in blood pressure and an elevation of the heart rate. The constricting effect of nicotine magnifies the risks presented by plaque accumulation.

These damaging effects of nicotine are contributing factors in the statistics indicating that tobacco users are at greater risk of heart attack, stroke and even erectile dysfunction.

The Good

In 2000, researchers at Stanford University Medical Center undertook a study designed to prove the negative effects of nicotine upon blood vessels. They did confirm that nicotine plays a role in the buildup of plaque in blood vessels, but in the process they learned something quite surprising: Nicotine actually promotes new blood vessel growth.

That's not entirely good news. The researchers reported that this ability to promote blood vessel growth, called angiogenesis, could help to stimulate the growth of tumors. Lung cancer cells grew more quickly after being implanted into mice that were consuming nicotine.

But this unexpected effect of nicotine may in the future be harnessed as a treatment for a number of conditions and illnesses. In the Stanford study, for example, the researchers found that nicotine's ability to grow new blood vessels helped restore oxygen to the limbs of mice that had been artificially deprived of oxygen.

One day, nicotine may be used in a number of beneficial applications. It may be used to help wounds heal faster. It might be able to help restore damaged circulation to heart attack and stroke victims. And nicotine is even being studied as a potential therapy for persons suffering from Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

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