What is the link between smoking and PAD?

You may know that smoking is a major cause of heart disease, cancer and lung disease. Smoking is also the number one cause of PAD. Studies show that smoking even half a pack of cigarettes per day may increase the risk of having PAD by 30 to 50 percent.

With every puff, smoking harms your blood vessels. It speeds up the buildup of plaque in the artery walls and increases the formation of leg artery blockages. Smoking constricts blood vessels and causes the blood to clot.

As a result, smoking causes PAD to get worse faster. It increases the chance of having leg pain (or claudication) even while at rest, losing a foot or a leg due to amputation, or having a heart attack or stroke. As many as one out of two people with PAD who continue to smoke will have a heart attack or stroke or die within 5 years.

What can quitting smoking do for you?

Quitting smoking may be the most important life saving step people with PAD can take. And, it is not too late. Research shows that people with PAD can lower the risk of heart attack, stroke or death when they quit smoking. Plus, you will enjoy these other health rewards:

  • Your blood pressure will be lower in just a few days.
  • You will reduce your risk of foot ulcers, eye problems, nerve damage and kidney disease (if you have diabetes).
  • You will lower your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, lungs and bladder.
  • In one year after quitting, your blood flow and breathing will be improved and your coughing and shortness of breath will be reduced.
  • You will protect your children and grandchildren from second-hand smoke.
  • Best of all, you will live longer and better.

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