My husband complains of aching legs and sore feet especially after walking. His feet are sometimes very white. He is a heavy smoker, and often quite short of breath. What does the future hold for him? He is 42 years old.
His future is not good! He is showing the early signs of two very serious, and potentially fatal diseases, associated with heavy smoking.
Buerger’s disease is a condition in which the arteries in the arms and legs go into prolonged spasm in response to nicotine. The fingers, toes, hands and feet are initially cold and white, then the circulation problem becomes so severe that gangrene sets in, and first the fingers and toes, and then parts of the arm and leg have to be amputated. If you think I’m kidding you about the seriousness of this condition, talk to any doctor, or look up Buerger’s disease in the library. There is no cure for this condition other than stopping smoking.
The other condition your husband may be developing is chronic bronchitis. This is a constant inflammation of the lungs caused by the irritation of smoke. It becomes steadily harder to breathe as more and more lung tissue is damaged, and the victim becomes far more susceptible to pneumonia and other lung infections, as well as lung cancer. Your husband MUST stop smoking NOW, and see a doctor to determine just how much damage has been caused already.
How does smoking cause poor circulation? Does it damage the blood vessels, or does it cause the blood to thicken?
With the first inhalation of cigarette smoke, the nicotine and other chemicals in the smoke enter the lungs and the blood stream. Within seconds, there is an effect on the arteries and veins throughout the body.
Smoking primarily acts upon arteries and veins by causing them to go into spasm. The tiny muscles in their walls contract, and the blood vessel shrinks in size, narrowing the tube through which the blood passes, and therefore depriving of oxygen the tissue supplied by that artery.
In elderly people or those who have high blood pressure, excess cholesterol or heart disease, this narrowing of the arteries can have very severe consequences, as a vital organ may have its already limited blood supply reduced to a point where it is unable to function properly.
The heart muscle itself is supplied with blood that comes through small arteries. If these go into spasm, angina or a heart attack may result. For this reason, it is imperative for those with other risks of heart disease to stop smoking. In advanced cases, a condition known as Buerger’s disease (or thromboangiitis obliterans) can result from smoking.
Smoking can have serious affects upon every body organ, not just the lungs.