It is widely known that smoking negatively affects the lungs. But did you know that smoking can also cause vascular issues? Here are important things that our vascular experts at Premier Surgical Vascular and Vein Center in Knoxville, TN want you to understand.

How does smoking affect your vascular health?
Smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the single largest cause of death in the United States.

Smoking causes vasoconstriction.
There are thousands of chemicals in cigarettes, but nicotine and carbon monoxide are the culprit of many health issues.

Nicotine is a stimulant and a vasoconstrictor. It makes it harder for the heart to pump blood in already constricted arteries. Vasoconstriction causes increased blood pressure. Carbon monoxide is produced when inhaling smoke from burning tobacco. Inhaling carbon monoxide results in less oxygen transported to the body.

• Smoking accelerates the arteries to narrow and harden.
Smoking can cause and worsen inflammation of the arteries. This inflammation promotes plaque buildup in the arteries, resulting or worsening a condition called atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis can interrupt blood flow to your brain, placing you at risk for stroke.

• Smoking can cause abnormal heart rhythms.
Smoking can cause changes in your heart, resulting in scarring of the heart muscle. This can cause irregular heart rhythms.

Additionally, nicotine in cigarettes causes smokers to experience a faster than normal heart rate (tachycardia).

• Smoking can lead to the development of peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
The inflamed arteries, plaque buildup, and vasoconstricting can result in PAD.

PAD is the result of poor blood flow in the lower extremities. This causes pain in the legs, cramping, and poor or weak pulses. Severe cases of PAD may require amputation.

If you are a smoker with vascular disease, it is important to quit smoking now. And if you are noticing symptoms as a result of your vascular issues, see a vascular specialist immediately! Premier Surgical Vascular and Vein Center has the largest group of board-certified vascular surgeons in East Tennessee. We are experts in diagnosing and treating vascular conditions ranging from simple varicose veins to more complex issues.

To request an appointment with one of our Vascular Specialists call (865) 588-8229 or visit