Hypertension Chapter 12

Put Out the Fire


How Smoking Raises Blood Pressure

Tobacco contains nicotine, a stimulant and a highly addictive drug. Nicotine causes a rapid release of adrenaline, resulting in increased heart rate, raised respiratory (breathing) rate, and higher blood pressure. In fact, nicotine causes blood pressure to surge 5-10 mm Hg, or even more, for up to an hour after you smoke. So if you smoke throughout the day, your blood pressure remains high throughout the day as well. READ MORE

Smoking makes arteries temporarily constrict (become narrower), adding to high blood pressure. But smoking narrows arteries in the long term, too. Tobacco contains literally thousands of chemicals. Many of them are toxic, such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, ammonia, arsenic, and heavy metals. These toxic chemicals irritate and injure the delicate lining of the arteries. Injury to the blood vessels causes hard plaques to build up inside the vessel walls, further narrowing them and making hypertension worse over time. LESS


Quitting Smoking

Seek support from loved ones, other quitters, counselors, and your doctor, who may recommend medical treatment options.

“In the medical profession, we know that many approaches to quitting will work,” says Steven Schroeder, MD, Director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California, San Francisco. “It’s similar to treating hypertension—there are many options and choosing a treatment depends on the individual's circumstances. Counseling over free telephone quit lines and internet quit services are nonmedical approaches that work and are underused. Drug therapies can be very effective. I tell people the drugs aren't my first choice because there are side effects. However, for some smokers who have tried other methods, the benefits will outweigh the risk.”


Take 3 Steps

  • Write down your reasons for quitting. Smoke cessation counselors find this a crucial step in successfully quitting. You must be clear on your goals and reasons for quitting. Writing them down in your own words personalizes and reinforces your objective.

  • Tell your doctor, friends and family that you want to quit. You will need their support and participation. Ask friends and family not to smoke or keep cigarettes near you. Let them know you may go through some emotional phases that won't be easy for any of you on the way to a smoke-free life.

  • Make your home smoke-free. Insist that no one ever smoke inside, for the health of everyone who lives there. Quitters who live in smoke-free homes have fewer episodes of backsliding.

It’s important, though, when quitting smoking, to take steps to avoid putting on weight, as weight gain creates health problems as well, especially for people who have high blood pressure.

The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.