True temperance teaches us to dispense entirely with everything hurtful and to use judiciously that which is healthful.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 562. The purpose of this article is to give a greater understanding of some of the dangerous effects that smoking has on the cardiovascular system.
Solomon said in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” This is very true. The heart and the associated system of arteries and veins are responsible for taking oxygen and nourishment to all parts of the body and bringing back the waste products for removal. The heart is located in the left center of the chest, weighs less than one pound and is approximately the size of a fist. It pumps about 100,000 times per day, releasing 7,000 quarts of blood. During times of exercise or need the output can be increased by six times. The pumping phase of the heart is about 1/3 of the heart cycle and the resting phase about 2/3. It is made up of four distinct chambers making two independent pumps to pump blood to the lungs and to the body. It has four directional valves to help the blood flow in the right direction and contains electrical tissue and tracts that spread the contraction impulse throughout the heart. The heart is assisted in its role by 100,000 miles of arteries, veins and capillaries. Despite this huge vascular system, it only takes 10–15 seconds for blood to circulate through the entire system.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and in high income countries worldwide. It is second only to lower respiratory infections in lower income countries and stroke/cerebral vascular disease in middle income countries. Heart disease, stroke and cerebral/cardiovascular diseases are intimately related to lifestyle: diets high in fat and sugar and low in fiber, smoking, obesity, sedentary habits, and stressful lifestyle. It is also closely associated to family history, age, sex, high blood pressure (over 130/70), and other diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, and thyroid problems.
Smoking is very closely related not just to lung problems, but also heart disease. Smoking causes a whole host of problems for the heart: abnormally increases the heart rate both during and after smoking and it increases the blood pressure. It affects the arteries by causing holes and roughness of the lining of these very important tubes. Cholesterol formation is increased in these damaged areas. This causes both narrowing and hardening of the arteries, thus further increasing blood pressure and causing more stress on the heart. It affects the platelets in the blood by increasing their stickiness. This increases the likelihood of blood clots forming in the arteries and blocking blood flow to parts of the body. (Ultimately the heart is enlarged, right side that pumps blood into lungs damaged by smoking, and the left side that pumps into damaged, narrowed, stiff arteries throughout the body.)
Some of the risk factors for these problems are unavoidable: stress, family history, age, sex, but we can choose to not smoke. Smoking is clearly a risk factor for our hearts that we can avoid or stop. Won’t you ask God for power to overcome this habit or share this information with someone else who needs it?