Can smoking cause blood clots? Does smoking influence viscosity or thickness of the blood? Blood clots form for a variety of reasons and some of those reasons are self-induced, known as “acquired risk factors”. For some, it’s smoking, for others it may be obesity, a medical illness, or recovery from a surgical procedure.
Smoking and blood clots
Smoking is more commonly associated with lung diseases such as lung cancer, but it’s also linked to heart disease. Smoking can increase a person’s risk for developing blood clots resulting in stroke. According to the American Heart Association, a smoker has the likelihood of dying a decade sooner than a non-smoker. Why?
It all comes down to chemicals and toxicity. Nearly 600 ingredients are found in cigarettes and many of the chemicals found in cigarettes and cigarette smoke cause cancer. Some are poisonous and extremely toxic.
What does this have to do with the blood?
Smoking changes the surface of blood platelets, making it easier for them to clump together. Damage to the lining of blood vessel walls is also associated with smoking, which increases the potential for clots to form.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, smoking has a serious and detrimental impact on blood vessels and the heart. It’s the chemicals found in tobacco smoke that damage blood cells. Smoking can also damage heart muscle and blood vessel structure and function.
Any damage to blood vessels increases a person’s risk of developing atherosclerosis - a narrowing of the arteries caused by plaque buildup. Most associate atherosclerosis with high cholesterol levels or obesity, but the same damage potential is present with the over 5,000 chemicals found in cigarette smoke.
Smoking is also a major contributing factor for the development of peripheral artery disease (PAD). This condition contributes to plaque buildup in arteries that carry blood to vital organs and areas of the body including the heart, the lungs, and the brain.
Individuals should be aware that secondhand smoke carries the same dangers to individuals as it does to the person smoking the cigarette. Research has shown that secondhand smoke can increase blood pressure, damage the muscular heart tissues, and lower levels of high-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol, commonly nicknamed the “good” cholesterol.
To reduce your risk of a smoking-related blood clot, quit.