Smoking Damages the Structure and Function of the Heart
Smoking may damage the structure and function of the heart and increase the risk of heart failure, even in people without heart disease.
The left ventricle of the heart becomes thicker as a result of smoking. This causes a decrease in heart function because a thickened left ventricle is stiffer and cannot contract with as much force as a healthy left ventricle. Although the left ventricle will work as hard as it can, it may eventually become so weak that it is not able to provide the body with an adequate amount of blood. This is called left-sided heart failure, regardless of previously diagnosed heart conditions.
The left ventricle is one of the four chambers of the heart. Blood flows from the right side of the heart to the left. Deoxygenated blood comes into the right atrium from the body and passes into the right ventricle. The right ventricle pumps blood through the lungs to replenish the supply of oxygen. Blood from the lungs enters the left atrium and passes to the left ventricle, which pumps oxygenated blood and nutrients throughout the body.
The best way to reduce the risk of heart failure associated with smoking is to quit and adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways to begin:
- Join a smoking cessation program or support group
- Make a plan to quit smoking and reduce the number of cigarettes smoked each day
- Talk to your doctor about medications to help quit
- Start a regular exercise program
- Eat a heart-healthy diet
- Learn how tobacco affects the heart and blood vessels
- Discover how the heart works