How Smoking Affects Your Veins

According to the National Institutes of Health, cigarette smoking is the No. 1 preventable cause of death and illness in the United States, and is responsible for one in every five deaths. Smoking does more than clog your lungs with tar and increase your risk for lung cancer. It also damages your blood cells, veins, and heart.

A little goes a long way

You might think that since you cut down on cigarettes, you’re in the clear. You’re not. Light smoking and even second-hand smoke suffuses your veins with toxins that can lead to life-threatening vascular conditions, such as:

Smoking-related blood vessel damage can also lead to peripheral artery disease (PAD), which makes the circulation in your legs and arms so sluggish that you may develop gangrene, and need to have a limb amputated. PAD can also cause a stroke or heart attack.

You have a greater than average risk of vein and artery damage if you also have diabetes, are obese, or take birth control pills. Even children who are exposed to second-hand smoke may develop damaged blood vessels, which increases their risk for disease and sudden death.

Seek immediate medical help if you experience the following symptoms of vein damage, such as:

Dr. Obinna Nowabi is a vascular surgeon and PAD expert here at Vein Health Clinics in Oviedo, Winter Haven, and Apopka, Florida. If you have vascular symptoms or are worried about how smoking is affecting the health of your veins, contact our office for a consultation.

How your veins react to smoke

Cigarette smoke contains chemicals, such as nicotine and carbon monoxide, that make it harder for your veins and heart to work efficiently. Nicotine makes your heart work with such effort that it increases your heart’s need for oxygen. Unfortunately, carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen that’s in your blood, placing a double burden on your heart.

Nicotine and carbon monoxide also damage your arterial walls, allowing the buildup of fatty deposits called plaques. The plaques narrow your blood vessels, so that your heart has has trouble pumping your blood through them.

Smoking also raises the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) in your blood while simultaneously decreasing the amount of health-promoting good cholesterol (HDL). The LDL-laden blood becomes thicker than normal, and more sluggish, too, so it can form clots and blockages that lead to heart attacks and stroke.

It isn’t pretty

One sign that your veins are already damaged is the presence of unsightly, painful varicose veins or even small spider veins in your face or legs. Visible veins have lost their ability to push blood forward efficiently, which causes the blood to backflow and pool. The pooled blood enlarges and twists your veins so that they show through your skin.

While smoking doesn’t necessarily cause varicose veins, you’re more likely to have them if you do smoke. Varicose veins also raise your risk for a condition called deep-vein thrombosis, which can lead to the development of life-threatening blood clots.

What happens when you quit

Finally, some good news: As soon as you quit smoking, your veins begin to repair themselves. That doesn’t mean you’re in the clear healthwise. Your habit may have created sufficient damage to still pose danger, which is why Dr. Nowabi recommends a vascular evaluation.

But here are some of the benefits you can expect when you stub out your last cigarette and ban smoke from your life:

Dr. Nowabi can help you quit smoking and restore your veins to health. In addition to being an expert at reversing PAD, he also treats varicose veins and spider veins with minimally invasive therapies or surgery.

To be sure your veins are healthy and functional, call Vein Health Clinics today. You can reach our friendly staff by phone or book a consultation online.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Dialysis: Here's What You Need to Know

Dialysis is life-saving treatment for patients with kidney failure. Thanks to today’s technology, you have choices about how to receive your dialysis treatment. Here’s a rundown of the steps to take and some of the choices you’ll face.

The Link Between Obesity and PAD

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) affects 8-10 million adults in the United States. Obesity increases your risk for PAD and significantly boosts the chance that you’ll develop severe complications. Here’s what you need to know about obesity and PAD.

Resolve to Banish Unsightly Veins this Year

If you’d love to get rid of unsightly varicose or spider veins, decide that this is the year to make it happen, then read on to learn about today’s minimally invasive procedures. Banishing ugly veins is easier than you think.

Tips for Living with Long-Term Dialysis

When patients learn they need dialysis, many are anxious about what to expect. With us, you have the support of a medical team who helps you understand your long-term dialysis needs, so you can confidently continue living a full life.

What Is Sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is the top treatment for spider veins and varicose veins, recommended by medical experts and valued by patients for its simplicity and excellent results. Here’s what you need to know about sclerotherapy.

How Can Endovenous Ablation Reduce My Leg Pain?

Did you know that common vein conditions can make your legs achy, crampy, and downright painful? You don’t need to suffer with vein-related leg pain when an effective, in-office procedure like endovenous ablation can produce quick relief.