Quit Smoking Now: It’ll Save Your Circulation, Too!

May 31 is World No Tobacco DayAny day is a good day to stop smoking, but tomorrow, which has been designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as World No Tobacco day, would be a particularly appropriate time.

Each year, the goal of the day is to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use; the WHO also launches an annual campaign, tied to this day, that advocates for effective policies that would help reduce tobacco consumption (For World No Tobacco Day 2014, the WHO is asking nations across the world to increase the amount of taxes levied on tobacco product purchases.)

According to the WHO, tobacco kills nearly six million people each year, (more than 600,000 of those fatalities are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke.)

Most of the large-scale, devastating consequences of tobacco addiction are well known and publicized—emphysema, cancer, etc., but did you also know that tobacco use begins to affect you long before potentially fatal consequences begin to manifest themselves?

It’s true! Studies show that smoking and using other tobacco products negatively impacts the circulatory system, affecting you in all sorts of terrible ways. After you break a bone, it takes an average person about 69 days to form new bone, but it takes a smoker over 89 days to form that new bone because of the damage done to the circulatory system by nicotine and carbon monoxide, two by-products associated with most types of tobacco use.  

Additionally, if you already have a condition such as Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), a potentially life threatening condition that restricts blood flow to the lower extremities, further damaging your circulatory system through tobacco usage can lead you to experience some of the devastating side effects associated with PAD, including gangrene (which can lead to amputation) and an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

Everyone should quit smoking, but especially those individuals who are more likely to develop PAD (anyone over the age of 50, anyone with diabetes, anyone with high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol as well as African Americans.)

In my Houston podiatry office, I provide patients with a 30-minute, non-invasive screening for PAD known as PADnet. If you are concerned about PAD and how your tobacco use may affect your circulatory health, schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider to begin taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle. 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.