How Does Smoking Cause Heart Disease?

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Heart disease can be easily caused by cigarette smoke that makes the tubes on the blood vessels narrower, as well as an increase in the likelihood of blood clots. Reverse the risk of heart disease by quitting smoking 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 am a Professor Emeritus at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. The heart is the principle muscle in the cardiovascular system that pumps the blood and provides circulation of that blood through the arteries throughout the body. The heart can easily be damaged by cigarette smoke. What happens is you begin to develop bumps inside the arteries that provide the blood to the heart muscle, that narrows the tubes on the blood vessels through which the body pumps blood and makes it less easy or more difficult for that blood to get through to actually reach the heart muscle. The heart muscle needs oxygen and needs nutrients in order to function effectively and when the blood vessels are narrowed the heart doesn't work as well. The most serious consequence, however, is that as you get progressive narrowing you may completely obstruct that artery. Cigarette smoking also increases the likelihood that the blood is going to clot and obstruct the blood vessel. When that happens you then lose the muscle that is the heart muscle beyond where the blockage occurs and the heart functions much less effectively . The principle effect, however, can be reversed and if you stop smoking by the time you have stopped smoking by about five to ten years your risk has dropped well below one half that of someone who continues to smoke and by the time you are about fifteen years out it is very difficult to distinguish your risk from that of someone who has never smoked. So while heart disease is the most common cause of disease in our society currently, the good news is that if you stop smoking you can dramatically lower the chances that you will develop heart disease.

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