World No Tobacco Day: Here’s what happens when you inhale second-hand smoke

Smoking in general is bad; this does not limit the risks for non-smokers. It is a well-known fact that when you inhale someone else’s smoke, you may be at the risk of lung cancer

World No Tobacco Day Here’s what happens when you inhale second-hand smoke
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Nonetheless, what is not identified and what not many people realise, is that second-hand smoke from cigarettes can also cause serious harm to your heart.

Although smoking is banned at public spaces in the country, people are still exposed and inconvenienced, especially children living with smoker parents.

Tobacco contains over 4,000 harmful chemical compounds; exposure to second-hand smoke can raise the risk to a certain disease by at least 30%. When these toxins enter into the system, the following occurs:

  • It makes the blood stickier.
  • Raises the bad cholesterol levels.
  • Damages the lining of the blood vessels.
  • Plaque develops along the vessel walls.
  • Blood Vessels stiffen and become narrower, reducing proper blood flow.
  • Further increases the possibility of a heart attack or stroke.
  • Plaque can also build up in the vessels that carry blood to the limbs, which can lead to peripheral artery disease causing pain and numbness.
  • Can increase blood pressure.
  • Can also cause endothelial dysfunction-a condition where the arteries are unable to dilate, commonly associated with many forms of cardiovascular disease.

When a cigarette burns, Carbon Monoxide (CO) is produced; our red blood cells absorb the released co much rapidly than they absorb oxygen.  sticks to the blood cells that were meant to carry oxygen causing the heart to work harder than required. Second-hand smoke can not only upsurge cardiovascular risk in non-smokers, but the risk increases multifold as exposure increases.

Protection against second-hand smoke:

If someone at home is a smoker, request them to move outside.

Confined spaces like cars, small closed rooms, are more likely to get uncomfortably if someone is smoking in it, refrain from staying within that space.

It is highly recommend avoiding second-hand smoke if you have been diagnosed with heart disease or have experienced a heart attack previously.

The author is an Interventional Cardiologist, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi