Tuesday, August 13, 2013

So How Exactly Does Smoking Modify The Heart

Functions of the Heart

The heart performs the necessary function of pumping blood throughout the body. The purpose of this function is to provide oxygenated blood to the tissues and organs of the body. Oxygenation of the blood is simply the process of combining oxygen with blood, a function that is performed by the lungs.

The right side of the heart takes blood that contains no oxygen and pumps it into the lungs to be oxygenated. The left side of the heart receives blood from the lungs that has been oxygenated. The oxygenated blood is then pumped by the heart muscle throughout the body to its tissues and organs.

The Impact of Smoking on the Heart

Smoking affects the heart because of two chemicals present in cigarettes: carbon monoxide and nicotine. Carbon monoxide attaches to the hemoglobin of the blood. Hemoglobin is responsible for the transport of oxygen throughout the body. Carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen, thus reducing the ability of hemoglobin to transport oxygen to the heart and throughout the rest of the body. Nicotine stimulates adrenaline production, which causes the heart to beat faster and thus raises blood pressure.

Smoking also negatively affects the heart by its impact on the production of cholesterol. Cigarette smoke increases the production of LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) while at the same time decreasing the production of HDL (the good cholesterol).

Long-term Affects of Smoking on the Heart

One cigarette will, of course, not lead to heart problems, but long-term smoking or even long-term exposure to tobacco smoke can have serious consequences to the heart. High blood pressure causes the heart to work harder on a daily basis, which means a strain on the heart that builds up over the years.

Cigarette smoke affects the cholesterol production in the body. Cholesterol leads to a narrowing and hardening of the arteries, which prevents the proper flow of oxygen to the heart and throughout the rest of the body. This taxes the heart tremendously and can eventually lead to a heart attack.

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