top of page

Nicotine & smoking: the effect on the vascular system. Warning signs

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

Tobacco use is one of the most preventable causes of death worldwide [1].

Smoking increases an individual’s risk for a heart attack and stroke, as well as more long-term diseases such as kidney disease and impaired wound healing.

Nicotine, a chemical found in cigarettes, has a significant effect on the healthiness of the entire body’s circulatory system [2]. Damage to the circulatory system leads to many confounding diseases that either kill or permanently incapacitate an individual’s normal function and daily life [3].

What are the main effects of nicotine (and smoking) on my body?

Constriction of blood vessels

This means that your heart has to pump harder to compensate for the restriction in blood flow experienced, raising blood pressure and risk of other cardiovascular diseases [2].


Infection and impaired wound healing

Sexual dysfunction (WARNING SIGN)

Spontaneous heart (chest) pain

Promotes aneurysm bursts

Thus, the majority of the effects that smoking has on the body are through the primary damage to the circulatory system. However, sometimes, we are unaware of the warning signs.

Some common questions smokers need to be aware off:

I am sitting down. Why am I experiencing chest pain?

Why is it hard for me to get an erection?

Why am I more prone to infections?

Why is my blood pressure constantly high?

Smoking causes many diseases throughout the body, as well as death. It is best to avoid or stop smoking as soon as possible.

“Let’s prevent disease, not treat it.”

Subscribe to our membership to join our community and learn about our heart’s health.



[1] Samet JM. Tobacco smoking: the leading cause of preventable disease worldwide. Thorac Surg Clin. 2013;23(2):103-12.

[2] Benowitz NL, Burbank AD. Cardiovascular toxicity of nicotine: Implications for electronic cigarette use. Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine. 2016;26(6):515-23.

[3] Benowitz NL, Liakoni E. Tobacco use disorder and cardiovascular health. Addiction. 2022;117(4):1128-38.

[4] Howard G. Cigarette Smoking and Progression of Atherosclerosis. JAMA. 1998;279(2):119.

[5] Almadani YH, Vorstenbosch J, Davison PG, Murphy AM, editors. Wound healing: A comprehensive review. Seminars in Plastic Surgery; 2021: Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc.

[6] Arcavi L, Benowitz NL. Cigarette Smoking and Infection. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2004;164(20):2206.

[7] Kovac JR, Labbate C, Ramasamy R, Tang D, Lipshultz LI. Effects of cigarette smoking on erectile dysfunction. Andrologia. 2015;47(10):1087-92.

[8] Kloner RA. Erectile dysfunction as a predictor of cardiovascular disease. International Journal of Impotence Research. 2008;20(5):460-5.

[9] Uddin SMI, Mirbolouk M, Dardari Z, Feldman DI, Cainzos-Achirica M, Defilippis AP, et al. Erectile Dysfunction as an Independent Predictor of Future Cardiovascular Events. Circulation. 2018;138(5):540-2.

[10] Sugiishi M, Takatsu F. Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for coronary spasm. Circulation. 1993;87(1):76-9.

[11] Qureshi AI, Sung GY, Suri MFK, Straw RN, Guterman LR, Hopkins LN, et al. Factors associated with aneurysm size in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage: effect of smoking and aneurysm location. Neurosurgery. 2000;46(1):44-50.

[12] Pardell H, Rodicio JL. High blood pressure, smoking and cardiovascular risk. J Hypertens. 2005;23(1):219-21.

[13] Tesfaye F, Byass P, Wall S, Berhane Y, Bonita R. Association of smoking and khat (Catha edulis Forsk) use with high blood pressure among adults in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2006. Prev Chronic Dis. 2008;5(3):A89.


bottom of page