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Smoking and Peripheral Vascular Disease


What is Peripheral Vascular Disease?

Peripheral vascular disease is a disorder that blocks, narrows down or hardens the vessels carrying blood to the legs, arms and feet partially or completely and as a consequence, blood flow to these parts is restricted. Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) is also known as Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) and Peripheral Artery Occlusive Disease (PAOD).

Peripheral Vascular Disease, a specific cardiovascular disease is unique among all cardiovascular diseases in the sense that this disorder affects arteries transporting blood to the arms and legs other than those supplying blood to the head and heart.

Peripheral Vascular Disease: Consequences

When a person becomes victim to peripheral vascular disease, he suffers pain in resting as well as walking and this disorder also leads to the loss of sensation in the lower part of the extremity. Moreover, on certain occasions, peripheral vascular disease is also responsible for Gangrene, a medical condition that results from the decay of blood tissues on account of lack of proper blood flow or infection.

Factors responsible for Peripheral Vascular Disease

Cigarette smoking and other forms of tobacco consumption have been found to be responsible to a three-fourth degree for the occurrence of all peripheral vascular diseases. Most significantly, passive smoking is also capable of causing changes in in blood vessel lining (endothelium) and facilitating the occurrence of PVD. Other facors leading to PVD are:

  • high blood pressure
  • stroke
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • personal history of PAD
  • excess presence of triglyceride levels, high-density lipoproteins and cholesterol in the blood commonly known as dyslipidemia
  • diabetes
  • aging
  • inactivity

How Smoking Triggers Off Peripheral Vascular Disease

A cardiovascular health study points out that in comparison to people who have never smoked, the risk of falling prey to PVD or PAD is astoundingly 16 fold higher in current smokers and seven fold in ex-smokers. According to clinical studies carried out to evaluate relationship between smoking and PAD, continuous smoking leads to atherosclerosis and makes smokers victims of Peripheral Vascular Disease. When a person indulges in smoking, the harmful chemicals present in tobacco destroy the vascular endothelium and accelerates coagulation of blood. This further hardens the arteries and vessels carrying blood to the legs, arms and feet and when it happens the smoker ultimately becomes a victim of PVD.

Long term smoking addiction has been found to be primarily responsible for the occurrence of PAD in young ladies. Further, women who continued smoking for a prolonged period, usually show a particular syndrome of PVD as well as “premature atherosclerosis.”

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