Smoking is a Major Risk Factor for Vascular Disease

The impact of smoking on cancer has been widely promoted, but its relationship to vascular disease is less known by the public.  Veins and arteries make up the vascular system that carries life giving, oxygen-rich blood to all your vital organs, the brain, and legs and arms.  Smoking causes sticky plague in veins and arteries and is a major risk factor in developing vascular diseases like carotid artery disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), and peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Smoking is the single most powerful risk factor for vascular disease and people who smoke put themselves at risk.  Vascular surgeons have found that people who smoke, or who have smoked, are more likely to develop diseases of their arteries and veins than those who do not.  It affects not only the heart, but also damages the circulation all over the body. 

While quitting smoking is not easy, it is the most important thing people can do to prevent strokes, prevent aneurysms, save limbs, and save their lives.  The Vascular Disease Foundation offers the following guidelines to quit smoking:

  1. Establish a date to quite and get rid of all cigarettes and ashtrays.  Get the smoke smell out of your clothes, car, and work place.
  2. Ask for support from friends and family.  Discuss taking medicine with your primary care physician.
  3. Get counseling.  Studies show that people who receive counseling in a group or individually are more successful quitting.
  4. Change your routine.  Things like taking a different route to work; drinking tea instead of coffee, and eating your meals in a different seat can help form new behaviors.
  5. Drink a lot of water. 
  6. Prepare for tough times and temptations.  Avoid situations where you you might drink alcohol.  Eat a healthy diet and focus on quitting smoking instead of gaining a few extra pounds. Stay away from places where people are smoking so you will not be tempted

 The devastating results of the following three vascular diseases will help you understand the importance of maintaining good vascular health. 

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