How smoking elevates your blood pressure

How smoking elevates your blood pressure

Last Reviewed : 12/18/2020
How smoking elevates your blood pressure

Smoking is one of the most common causes of death due to cardio-vascular disease. Basically, smoking leads to increase in the activity of sympathetic nervous system. When this happens, it results in increased blood pressure, heart rate and the force of contraction of the heart. It also increases the overall oxygen consumption by the heart. All these effects of tobacco are due to a substance called nicotine. It ramps up the plasma levels of adrenaline and non-adrenaline, which in turn raises the blood pressure and cause other effects of activation of sympathetic nervous system.

More Effects of Smoking

Considering more effects of smoking, it compels carbon monoxide to replace oxygen from the red cells, leading to decreased oxygen availability to the cells of the body. The most common parts of the body affected include the lining of blood vessels and the heart, forcing them to maintain a higher pressure. It also stimulates the arterial walls causing spasms and increased blood pressure. It causes release of chemicals that cause stiffness of arterial wall.

Additionally, smoking causes atherosclerosis, which is a disease where in the wall of the arteries gets clogged with cholesterol and fats, leading to stiffness. This is yet another reason for the increased blood pressure in smokers. While the acute changes in heart rate and blood pressure following an episode of smoking may decrease after a period of about 30 minutes to 60 minutes, the effect of smoking on the arteries will continue even after years of cessation of smoking. The rise in blood pressure increases with the quantity of cigarettes consumed. Also, blood pressures have been found to be decreased in smokers, after the acute reaction to smoke has passed. This fall in blood pressure may be attributed to low body weight common among smokers. High body weight and high blood pressure have been found in ex-smokers compared to people who have never smoked in their life.

Smoking and Blood Pressure

In a study, ambulatory blood pressures were measured for a group of smokers and a group of non-smokers of the same age. And it was discovered that the 24-hour blood pressures of smokers were high compared to those of non-smokers, thereby proving the rise of blood pressure due to smoking. In the same study, it was also shown that the night-time pressures among smokers were lower than daytime pressures, showing the transient nature of smoking-induced rise in blood pressure.

While the first cigarette of the day may suddenly increase the heart rate and blood pressure, the second would only elevate them slightly above the previous levels. This explains the tolerance developed by those who continue smoking for years. When consumed for longer periods of time, nicotine decreases the sensitivity of baro-receptors (receptors in the aorta that sense changes in blood pressure and respond by altering the tension in arterial wall). This ultimately causes elevated pressures and propels the synthesis of a potent vaso-constrictor, thromboxane A2. Furthermore, it decreases the production of vaso-dilators like nitric oxide and endothelin. All of which accounts for the development of hypertension.

Besides, blood pressure may be found elevated in people who have quit smoking. This effect is due to sudden withdrawal of nicotine from the body. While this effect may last for any duration of time from one week to about one month, abstaining from tobacco will make the blood pressure eventually return to the normal values. In addition to that, it is important to note that nicotine replacements used for quitting smoking do not affect blood pressures like consumption of tobacco.


In summary, this piece has laid emphasis on why smoking is harmful to the body. Beyond the increase of blood pressure, smoking leads to terribly bad diseases. Well, some of these diseases include erectile dysfunction, blindness, ectopic pregnancy, hip fractures, and colorectal cancer. Others are rheumatoid arthritis, cleft palate, infertility, and gum diseases.

We can categorically infer that an overwhelmed majority of adults who are habitual smokers are well aware that smoking is dangerous to their health. However, studies show that many of them are reluctant to quit smoking because doing so could prove an uphill task. Perhaps one of the most effective ways of encouraging smokers to kick the habit is by enlightening them more and more. Make no mistake, smoking increases blood pressure (hypertension), leading to heart and brain damage.

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