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The Death of a Smoker
Know the Dangers of Smoking
Most habitual smokers know the dangers of smoking. This young man was a compulsive smoker he smoked twenty cigarettes daily for a period of ten years or longer. With a spasm of coughing, the 40 year old executive fell face down in the hotels foyer, in front of horrified witnesses. He was dead on arrival at the hospital.
Within an hour the young executive with a bright future had become a body with a tag on his toe. For his young wife and two children, life would never be the same again. But after the autopsy this family man left a message to those that want to listen.
Come into the autopsy room. View the black lungs sliced open on a cutting board, the brain in a jar of Formalin, these are shocking postmortem exhibits of an appalling indifference to a deadly serious health problem.
Did cigarettes cause this man’s death?
- There are three ways that cigarette smoking can be a direct cause of sudden death.
- Nicotine is a very powerful drug which releases adrenalin the hormone that is stimulated by sudden fear or excitement.
- The heartbeat increases and blood pressure rises as certain arteries contract to channel more blood to those organs and muscles needed for greater effort.
- The impact of this nicotine reaction has been known to trigger an unsound heart into a convulsion of uncontrolled muscle contractions known as ventricular fibrillation or an acute spasm of the coronary arteries, and subsequent cardiac arrest.
- If there were evidence here of morbid discoloration and decay, he says. This would be a sure sign of death of heart muscle tissue from severe oxygen insufficiency caused by the blockage of a coronary artery.
- This man’s heart shows some evidence of previous damage. It has a scar and a clot, indicating that he had a mild heart attack at some point in the past, though not enough to have killed him.
- The heart in addition is slightly enlarged and the muscle fibers are flabby.
- The second way in which cigarette smoking may cause sudden death involves the blood vessels, specifically the arteries of the heart and the main arteries leading to the brain.
- The doctor opens a section of coronary artery and shows the evidence of atherosclerosis.’
- He explains that in atherosclerosis artery walls become clogged with fatty deposits, causing a reduction of blood flow and so decreasing oxygen supply to the tissues.
- If a main coronary artery becomes totally blocked, death is usually abrupt. Such blockage may be caused by a thrombus.
- There is considerable evidence, the Doctor says, that nicotine in cigarette smoke causes the body to release adrenalin, which in turn increases blood-platelet adhesiveness, hastening the blood-clotting process and the process of thrombus formation.
- Meanwhile the continual jolt from nicotine drives the heart to perhaps 20 extra beats per minute in the heavy smoker. Straining the heart and pounding away at clogged blood vessels.
- The danger of sudden death from a thrombus striking at the heart or the brain is increasingly acute.
- In studies among men who died before the age of 45, thickening of the coronary arteries has been found to be common. And in smokers of twenty cigarettes or more daily, it is 10 to 15 times more frequent than in non-smokers.
- The third way in which cigarette smoking may be a factor in sudden death involves a vascular condition called an aneurysm. This is a thinning, stretching and bulging of a weak section of arterial wall.
- ‘There are two primary sites of fatal aneurysmal hemorrhage,’ says the Doctor. ‘One is the aorta, the main artery from the heart.
- The other is a small circle of arteries at the base of the brain from which blood vessels radiate throughout the brain,’
- This man died by a massive stroke. ‘The blood supply to the brain was completely cut off.
- This clot broke off from the one we found earlier in the heart Could smoking be the actual cause of death?
- In this case, yes, cigarette smoking can be considered a significant contributory factor.
- Generalized atherosclerosis, destroyed capillaries in the lung, combined with the known impact of nicotine on the heart, arteries and blood-clotting, mechanism, are convincing evidence.
Smoking the Major Cause of Heart Disease
- Cigarette smoking is one of the major risk factors in heart diseases. Coronary thrombosis, angina pectoris, arterial disease and strokes are all significantly commoner in smokers.
- Two out of five heavy smokers die before the age of 65.
- Increasing cigarette consumption also reflects a rise in the incidence of lung cancer.
- The lung cancer cases were clearly related to cigarette smoking for no cases were found among non-smokers.
- Cigarette smoking is the most important cause of chronic respiratory disease and is considered to be a preventable health hazard.
© 2016 Anita Hasch