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Why You Shouldn't Smoke - 5 Unexpected Diseases

Updated on February 27, 2013

Nicotine

Nicotine is a chemical found in cigarettes and is the substance that causes a smoker to become addicted to smoking.

Nicotine has a variety of bad effects on the body, these include:

  • Making the smoker feel more alert due to it mimicking the action of transmitter substances that are at the synapses between nerves.
  • It initiates the release of adrenaline which then increases heart and breathing rate and raises blood pressure.
  • Constriction of the arterioles in the extremities of your body (fingers, toes etc) this means that blood and oxygen flow will decrease.
  • It makes the platelets in the smokers blood 'sticky' which increases their risk of getting blood clots.

1 - Atherosclerosis

The carbon monoxide that is found in cigarettes damages the endothelium (inner lining) of the smokers arteries and this then initiates a whole chain of horrible artery related events to occur.

  • Carbon monoxide damages the arteries endothelium.
  • Phagocytes repair the damage.
  • This then encourages the growth of smooth muscle.
  • Deposition (also known as atheromas) of fatty substances into the arteries increases (this could include things like cholesterol and dead blood cells and platelets).
  • The build up is in the wall of the artery and could grow to an extent that it breaks through the inner lining of the artery .
  • The build up will eventually form a plaque which protrudes into the lumen of the artery and leaves it less flexible and rough. The lumen narrows and this reduces blood flow.

2 - Coronary Heart Disease

When the lumen of the arteries are narrowed by Atherosclerosis it reduces the blood flow to the heart and therefore also reduces oxygen supply. This can lead to Coronary Heart Disease (CHD).

CHD can take 3 forms:

  • Angina - severe pain in chest.
  • Heart attack (myocardial infarction) - the death of a part of the heart muscle.
  • Heart failure - when the heart can no longer sustain it's pumping.

3 - Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic Bronchitis is the inflammation of the airway linings. The cilia then get damaged and mucus is produced in excess and then collects in the lungs.

The mucus causes the lungs to become irritated and the smoker will often cough up mucus and become more at risk to lung infections.

4 - Thrombosis

Blood flowing past the built up plaque in the arteries (due to Atherosclerosis) cannot flow smoothly and this increases the chance that the blood will clot.

As I mentioned before, the platelets become sticky because of the nicotine and this increases the chance of blood clotting even more.

The blood clot is known as Thrombosis, sometimes it will stop blood flow in the artery that it's in or other times it may break off and travel around in the blood until it reaches a narrower artery and then lodge in that one instead!

5 - Emphysema

Emphysema is when the alveoli lose their elasticity and burst. This causes the lungs to have a smaller surface area for gaseous exchange to occur.

Someone with Emphysema will often be short of breath and fatigued due to the blood being less oxygenated and exhaling being harder.

If you smoke, would you consider quitting after reading this hub?

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Here are some useful sites if you want to quit smoking:

http://smokefree.nhs.uk/

http://www.quit.org.uk/

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