When a person starts smoking, they are exposed to the addictive substance nicotine. Nicotine affects the body in several ways, including altering heart and lung function, increasing blood pressure, and causing cravings.
When a person stops using nicotine, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. These include irritability, attention difficulties, sleep disturbances and powerful cravings for tobacco.
Increased Blood Pressure
One of the harmful effects of nicotine on the body and brain is an increased risk of high blood pressure. This condition is also known as hypertension and is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.
It’s a common health problem that can cause severe problems in your heart, kidneys, eyes, and other body parts. Fortunately, there are things you can do to lower your blood pressure.
The first step is to talk to your doctor about what you can do. He can help you identify which lifestyle changes could be most beneficial for you.
The most common causes of high blood pressure are obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, and alcohol use. Avoiding these can significantly reduce your risk of high blood pressure and other related conditions.
Increased Heart Rate
When you smoke, nicotine stimulates the adrenal glands to release a lot of the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline). This ‘flight or fight hormone causes your heart rate and breathing to increase.
Nicotine also increases blood pressure and glucose levels, making your heart work harder to pump oxygen-rich blood around your body. These effects can be dangerous for your health and may lead to conditions like high blood pressure, heart failure, and diabetes.
A complex combination of your sympathetic nervous system and your parasympathetic nervous system controls your heartbeat. The balance of these two systems is vital for your health.
Your heart rate can change a lot from day to day. It may be high while you sleep, low while exercising, or somewhere between.
Increased Blood Sugar
Sugar is an energy source for the brain and helps regulate mood. But when the body gets too much of it, it can make us irritable or sad.
The sugar in food is absorbed into the bloodstream as glucose (Figure 1). It then travels to the liver, muscles, adipose tissue and other cells, where it is used for energy.
If the body doesn’t get enough insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream and can cause high blood sugar. This is called hyperglycemia.
The good news is that most people with diabetes can control their blood sugar levels with diet and medications. But monitoring blood sugar regularly and discussing any changes you see in your test results with your doctor is essential.
Increased Adrenaline Levels
Adrenaline is one of the most common stress hormones in the body. It’s released during a flight or fight response and helps your body react to physical and emotional stressors.
Nicotine causes your adrenal glands to release more of this hormone than usual. This means your heart rate goes up, and your blood pressure rises.
It also raises your sugar levels and gives your body more energy. This is why you feel strong and invincible during an adrenaline rush.
Adrenaline can help your body deal with stressful situations like tiger attacks, but too much can harm your health. In rare cases, your adrenal glands may produce too much of the stress hormones epinephrine or norepinephrine. This can lead to pheochromocytoma, a tumor your healthcare provider can remove.
Increased Insulin Levels
If you have diabetes, nicotine can make it harder to manage your blood sugar levels. It can also cause you to develop insulin resistance, which is when your body doesn’t use insulin as it should.
This means that it won’t be able to regulate blood sugar well, leading to high glucose levels in your blood. Insulin is crucial to controlling blood sugar because it helps your body use glucose effectively by directing it to where it needs to go, such as the liver and muscles.
In addition, the stress hormone cortisol is released when you smoke, which can reduce your sensitivity to insulin. This can lead to insulin resistance and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
Increased Risk of Blood Clots
Smoking damages the arteries carrying blood to your heart, brain, and legs. Over time, this can lead to a build-up of plaque that restricts blood flow and increases your risk for a heart attack or stroke.
Nicotine is known to increase clotting factors, which can cause blood clots to form more easily. Additionally, smoking may also make platelets more likely to stick together.
In a new study, researchers found that people who smoked one pack a day were 17 percent more likely to have a deep vein blood clot than non-smokers. The researchers looked at 32 studies and 35,151 patients who had blood clots in the legs.