How Important is Your Heart Health?

If you could have a positive impact on the future, we wonder where you would start. Some people think about going back to the gym and training their bodies to be stronger and more active. Others think about changing their diet. They think about putting foods into their bodies without additives, preservatives, pesticides, or antibiotics, or perhaps to minimize their consumption of fats and salts. Still others want to quit habits that don’t put them at their best (i.e. smoking, drinking, and using recreational drugs). We think that smokers might have not started their habit in the first place if they knew it would be addictive and take years to shake.

Looking at Your Body

With the many options available to improve your health, we suggest that you reduce or eliminate smoking for greater lung capacity. One study showed that even patients who smoke and participate in an intermittent exercise program improved their lung capacity. While exercise may have improved their cardiovascular health (at least in terms of their peak expiratory flow), the same patients may have been increasing their risks of other heart and circulatory problems due to smoking. If you smoke regularly, it’s common to feel short of breath when you try to perform a more strenuous level of activity. While your lung capacity is part of your cardiovascular health, have you considered the impact of smoking on other aspects of your body? In this piece, we examine the increased risk that smokers have for other conditions like peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

It’s All About Heart Health

Your heart healthThink of your heart and lungs as two organs that drive the flow of oxygen, water, and nutrients to all parts of the body. Their activities also make it possible to remove waste that builds up throughout the body. Without a heart, your body’s blood would not flow. Without lungs, your body could not exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide. You need both organs to survive. According to the Texas Heart Institute, smokers are at risk for other conditions besides lung disease including peripheral vascular disease, which involves one or more blockages to vessels far from the heart. If only the peripheral arteries are involved, then PVD is known as PAD.

With either form of the disease, a patient may be at risk for developing blood clots, also known as deep vein thromboses (DVTs), which travel throughout the body’s circulatory system and then suddenly burst. Patients may also be at risk for inflammation or narrowing/blockage of blood vessels.

An Ounce of Prevention

It’s important for men and women to realize that smoking as a cause of PAD is preventable. This means that you would have to quit smoking in order to eliminate the biggest risk factor for developing this disease. We were interested to read that there is a stronger correlation between smoking and PAD than there is between smoking and coronary artery disease. One estimate put the cases of PAD at 200 million people worldwide.

Risk Factors and Symptoms

The disease will equally affect both men and women. How would you know if you had signs of the disease? One telltale sign is that you may have pain in the legs while walking or exerting yourself and then you will feel better by sitting and resting. Some physical signs that you may experience are muscle atrophy, hair loss, smooth shiny skin, skin that feels cool to the touch especially when associated with pain while walking, decreased or absent pulses in your feet, non-healing ulcers or sores in the legs or feet, and cold or numb toes.

Taking Action

We would like to think of smoking as bearing a similarity to any habit that doctors advise is not good for our health. If you are allergic to bees, then you would probably want to avoid being a beekeeper and perhaps carry an emergency pill or an EpiPen with you. Then, you could use the remedy if you are potentially exposed to a bee bite. If you are allergic to milk, you would probably stop drinking it in order to avoid the negative impacts on your digestive and intestinal systems.

If you know that smoking can cause problems such as peripheral artery disease, then you would want to make a sustained effort to quit. Fortunately, there are smoking cessation programs throughout the U.S. that smokers can trust. Some are publicly funded by their state, which means that you would have little or no costs associated with trying to quit this dangerous habit. Many insurance plans will also cover or partially cover the cost of prescription medications that help patients to quit. We think that it is also helpful to read more about why you smoke so you can understand the nature of this addiction.

We encourage you to visit here and download our free eBook called “What Type of Smoker Are You.” We have put this together as a resource for smokers. It’s easy to share with anyone who desires to be smoke-free. For details, please contact us today.