When one thinks about the long term effects of smoking on general health, then much of the ill-doings of the habit tend to center around the lungs. As such, newspapers and medical journals are full of facts about smoking which directly link it to diseases of the lungs and cancer. However, the harmful effects of nicotine extend to other parts of the body too.
For instance, certain conditions of the heart or child rearing in women can be connected to having smoking. In that respect, saying that smoking actually affects the rise of cholesterol levels in the body might come as a surprise to many; but it is sadly true.
Now, it is common knowledge that HDL (high density lipoprotein) collects fatty deposits from the blood and returns them to the liver for elimination, and is therefore known as ‘good cholesterol. Conversely, LDL (low density lipoprotein) being the ‘bad cholesterol’ is responsible for accumulation of this artery clogging element in the circulation system.
According to the American heart Association, the LDL levels in the body should be below 100mg/dL while the HDL levels need to be above 40mg/dL. Thus, the combined cholesterol levels in a healthy body ought to be lower than 200 mg/dL. The byproduct of smoking is Acrolein and this is what causes the affects the cholesterol balance in our body.
Facts About Smoking – How Acrolein Does The Damage
Acrolein is known to interfere with both the HDL as well as LDL in different ways to create problems in the body. Here is a focused outlook on its effects.
- By attacking the protein, it dimities the cleaning ability of HDL in the body. As a result, more cholesterol stays back in the bloodstream.
- With LDL, it interferes with the protective enzyme which is responsible for keeping the former’s structural consistency intact. In the absence of the enzyme, LDL becomes vulnerable to the unwanted process of oxidation which proves fatal. In some studies, it was found that higher quantity of oxidized LDL increased the chances of heart attack or stroke in a person.
Health Conditions Related To Smoking and Cholesterol Levels
In simple words, elevated presence of nicotine decreases the good cholesterol while increasing the percentage of bad cholesterol in the body. Nicotine also increased the level of triglyceride content in the blood stream. As a result, three different health conditions may be seen in individuals owing to the ominous relationship between smoking and cholesterol.
- Buerger’s Disease: This is a condition seen only in smokers and it is directly related to the excessive cholesterol levels in one’s body. The disease is known to affect circulation to extremities of the body such as fingers and toes. The effect is sometimes so severe that circulation is completed inhibited from reaching these parts. As a result, fingers and toes become gangrenous and if so then they will have to be amputated in order to stop the spread of gangrenes to other regions.
- Heat Disease or Hypertension: Your body’s blood pressure rises with the increase in cholesterol levels in the blood stream. Now, nicotine is known to be a powerful stimulant, with the ability to constrict the blood vessels. What this means is that the heart now has to pump harder to force the blood flow through the constricted arteries. When this aspect gets intertwined with the clogging nature of cholesterol in the blood, the result is hypertension. In many cases, smoking and unhealthy eating can lead to the eventual realization of heart disease.
- Lethargy And Obesity: While blood clots are a serious problem, smoking related increase in cholesterol levels also decreases the overall functional efficiency of the body. The immune system takes a hit while stamina and strength see an all time low for the entire duration. In fact, those who are overweight need to stop smoking in order to increase the overall circulation of blood in the body and thus eliminate excess cholesterol from the system. Sustained smoking and oily diets can produce such a state of lethargy due to obesity that they will ultimately result in other secondary health conditions.
The Effects Of Kicking The Habit
When you stop smoking, the direct impact is seen in the HDL and LDL levels. The HDL content in the blood stream rises and therefore helps in washing out cholesterol from the bloodstream through the liver. As a result, the overall level of LDL automatically plunges thereby leaving little scope for heat related disorders.
It must be emphasized here that smoking is not the sole contributor to rising cholesterol levels in your body. There are other changes that need to be brought about in one’s lifestyle to ensure that cholesterol related problems do not haunt him or her in the future. These include healthy diet, proper exercise and adequate rest on a daily basis.