At this point, pretty much everyone can agree that smoking is incredibly bad for your health – even the cigarette companies themselves have resigned themselves to this indisputable truth. But a surprising number of people who visit me here at Joseph R. Giove Clinical Hypnosis don’t seem to fully understand just what the various chemicals and compounds in a cigarette do to their health.
One perfect example is the primary reason that people smoke – nicotine. This highly addictive substance is what keeps people coming back to cigarettes, and is included in virtually any kind of retail level smoking cessation product, from electronic cigarettes to nicotine patches and beyond. Many people assume that this is the only danger associated with it – it hooks you on smoking so you keep coming back, and the tar and other compounds are what harm your health.
But nicotine does indeed lead to some serious health issues, and one of the biggest is in its impact on the blood vessels and the circulatory system. This is something worth taking a closer look at so you can understand why nicotine is so dangerous to your health.
Vasoconstriction or Vasodilation?
The first thing to clear up what nicotine does to the vessels themselves. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor that causes the blood vessels to shrink and tighten up. This in turn has a big impact on the blood pressure. Since vessels are smaller, blood pressure rises and brings with it a wide range of health risks.
Left unchecked, high blood pressure can cause serious health problems, including damaged arteries, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and more. Blood pressure alone is a major health risk, and enhancing its severity through the use of nicotine is something that should be avoided.
As a vasoconstrictor, nicotine has this effect on the blood vessels no matter what form it’s ingested. In other words, whether you smoke, vape, or use a patch, the impact on your blood vessels and circulatory system as a whole is the same. Once the nicotine is in the bloodstream, it has this impact on your health.
What Will Vasoconstriction Do?
I’ve already touched on the basic principle behind what a vasoconstrictor does in as much as it causes a narrowing of the blood vessels and an increase in blood pressure. But beyond that, what else will happen within the circulatory system when this occurs? Here are a few additional things to understand.
- The heart must work harder now in order to pump blood through the body. As a result, your risk of developing heart and cardiovascular system related problems is dramatically increased due to nicotine use.
- Nicotine also causes the body to release fat and cholesterol when it enters the blood stream. This means that you have an increased amount of cholesterol flowing through the circulatory system, which in turn means that there is an increased chance of your cholesterol levels building up.
- That cholesterol problem is only made worse when you smoke. Carbon monoxide is found in every puff of a cigarette, and when you smoke and expose yourself to it, the carbon monoxide makes it easier for fat and cholesterol to attach themselves to your arteries.
In short, when you use nicotine you’re not only causing the vessels to shrink directly, but also lead to long term damage caused by cholesterol.
The Dangers Of Smaller Arteries
Increased blood pressure is the obvious risk associated with narrowing of the arteries. However, it’s important to understand that when you shrink the size of your arteries you are in turn directly making it harder for your body to get the blood it needs.
When a narrow artery leads to less blood flow through a particular body part, it means that the body part may not be able to work as it properly should. This is particular true of the brain. Narrowed arteries leading to the brain could restrict blood flow to it, and in the process may have a serious impact on your brain’s health. It can reduce mental function and even lead to permanent damage. This applies to any part of the body.
Additionally, the heart must work harder to deal with the narrowed arteries and the increased blood pressure. In doing so, you increase the risk of a heart attack being caused by an overworked heart muscle. Simply put, using any kind of nicotine product can dramatically impact your health.
Pregnant Women And Vasoconstriction
It’s also very important to touch on the fact that pregnant women who smoke are placing their unborn child at very serious risk as well. The primary reason lies in the fact that a fetus gets all of its nourishment from blood vessels leading from mother to baby. When nicotine is used, those same blood vessels are narrowed just like any other in the body.
This leads to fetal undernourishment and has been linked to a wide range of health problems for unborn children including:
- Increased risk of obesity
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Increased risk of facial clefts
- Brain development and metabolism abnormalities
- Impaired orientation of the newborn
- Increased chance of infertility later in life
- Overall developmental toxicity
In fact, for more than 20 years nicotine has been on the list of chemicals according to the state of California that has been proven to cause developmental problems in infants. As dangerous as smoking and nicotine use is for adults, it’s even more harmful to unborn children.
Step Away From Nicotine
Finally, I should point out that the damage done to the blood vessels is really only one part of what nicotine can do to your health. There are many other ways that it can damage your health and as such it’s important to take steps to free yourself from it entirely. Using e-cigs or patches can certainly help you stop smoking, but you need to get away from the nicotine entirely.
It’s not always easy, but the power of hypnosis and your own willpower can certainly help. If you’re serious about improving your health and wellbeing, nicotine has to go.