How Does Smoking Affect the Cardiovascular System?

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Smoking damages all aspects of the cardiovascular system, causing heart attacks, strokes and dilation of the main blood vessel in the stomach. Learn about how cigarette smoke can cause a blockage of the arteries that carry blood to the lower legs with help from a pulmonary disease research expert in this free video on the effects of smoking.

Part of the Video Series: Effects of Smoking
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Video Transcript

Hello, I am Dr. David Burns, I'm a professor emeritus at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. And smoking also has profound affects on the cardiovascular system. The cardiovascular system is the heart and blood vessels that carry the blood throughout the body. Smoking damages all aspects of the cardiovascular system. It causes heart attacks, which are damage to the heart muscle. It causes strokes which does damage to the brain. It causes a dilation of or weakening of the main blood vessel in the abdomen, in the stomach, that carries blood to the lower extremities. That's called an aortic aneurysm and that weakening to rupture and death. In addition, cigarette smoking causes a blockage of the arteries that carry blood to the lower legs and that can lead to not enough blood flow getting to the muscles of the lower legs which causes pain and then as it progresses to more extreme circumstances, it can lead to the absence of enough blood flow and then death of the toes and occasionally you need to amputate the lower leg as well as the foot. So there are very profound cardiovascular complications of cigarette smoking.

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