How smoking affects your risk of developing PAD


Family Healthcare & Cardiac Center

Cardiovascular clinic with trusted cardiologist & vein specialists, offering wide range of vascular tests, imaging & treatments in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY.


Cigarette smoking is a great danger to overall health. It harms nearly every organ and causes various diseases. Each year more than 480,000 Americans die each year from cigarette smoking. Smoking accounts for nearly one in five deaths.

In a recent study, researchers found that particularly in women smokers the chances of developing PAD was tenfold of a non-smoker.  The amount of cigarettes smoked a day also plays a part in the risk of developing PAD. Smoking half a pack of cigarettes each day increases the risk of developing PAD 30-50 percent. Cigarettes are a huge risk factor for PAD due to the swelling and inflammation that leads to the formation of plaque. With each cigarette, the buildup of plaque speeds up. Plaque is composed of cholesterol and particles, the cholesterol and particles develop a waxy material which sticks to artery walls.  Plaque build up on the artery walls reduces circulation to your arms and legs. This in return raises the risk of developing PAD.

What happens once you quit smoking?

The risk you have of suffering from a heart attack or stroke immediately reduces once you quit smoking. Within a few days of stopping smoking your blood pressure will decrease. After a year the risk of heart attack drops 50%. Once you have stopped smoking for 5-15 years, your risk of heart attack or stroke reduces to the same amount of risk as someone who has never smoked. Though the risk of developing PAD is drastically reduced, it is not completely eliminated. There are many risk factors that play a part in the development of PAD.

What happens if you don't quit smoking?

If you continue to smoke, you pose 2-4 times the risk of death from a heart attack or stroke than a non-smoker. You have a much greater risk of developing severe PAD. Smoking will significantly increase the chances of you developing claudication or gangrene. If you continuously smoke, there is an increased chance of complications with your health which may lead to amputation of the foot or leg.

What about Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes)?

E-Cigarettes are battery operated devices. These devices are used to inhale aerosol which contains nicotine. Though E-Cigarettes are less deadly than conventional cigarettes there are still health consequences. Nicotine, which is often found in E-Cigarettes has several health effects. Nicotine can potentially lead to insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. E- Cigarettes often contain diacetyl. Diacetyl is linked to a certain type of lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans.


If you would like more information or assistance on quitting smoking please go to

National Cancer Institute Smoking Quitline:1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848)



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