The link between smoking and blood pressureSmoking causes a temporary rise in blood pressure. Every time you smoke, you immediately raise your blood pressure by activating your sympathetic nervous system (SNS). Your SNS controls your body’s response to danger or stress. When your SNS is activated, hormonal signals cause extra blood flow to your muscles. This causes you to feel more tense and alert. As a result, your pulse and blood pressure will rise. Smoking triggers your SNS and causes this same rise in heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, this can damage the walls of your arteries and put you at higher risk of many serious heart conditions. Smoking can also increase the risk of the buildup of fatty substances known as plaque inside your arteries. This condition is called atherosclerosis. It can lead to heart attack and stroke if left untreated. Hypertension can increase the rate of plaque buildup inside your arteries.
Smoking vs. vaping
Vaping, or the use of electronic cigarettes, has risen in popularity in the past several years. Many vape manufacturers claim that vaping is a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes. But studies about the effects of vaping are still inconclusive.
There’s evidence that links vaping to hypertension. For instance, a 2018 study found that e-cigarettes caused a significant rise in blood pressure in people with hypertension immediately after use. A 2021 study found that e-cigarettes had a similar relationship to hypertension as regular cigarettes, but researchers stressed the need for more long-term studies.
Does smoking increase my risk of hypertension?Researchers don’t fully understand the link between smoking and hypertension. Smoking increases the risk of many cardiovascular conditions. But the results of studies looking at the link between smoking and hypertension have been conflicting. A 2015 analysis of 141,317 people found that smokers generally had lower blood pressure than never-smokers. A 2017 study involving men who used to smoke found they had a higher risk of hypertension than current smokers. Researchers suggest this might partially be due to weight gain common in the 2 years after quitting smoking. A different 2017 study suggests this might be because the effects of smoking are long term and often don’t show up until later in life. Conversely, any negative effects of quitting smoking are temporary. While research on this topic is ongoing, we do know that smoking is linked to an increased risk of many other health conditions, including cardiovascular conditions. So, although we don’t fully understand the risk of hypertension for smokers, the health risks of smoking are clear.
What are the symptoms of hypertension?
- nose bleeds
- blurry or unclear vision
- shortness of breath
- irregular heartbeat
- feeling as if your heart is pounding or racing
- red or pink urine
Should people with hypertension quit smoking?If you smoke and have high blood pressure, it’s recommended you quit smoking. A their blood pressure, even while taking blood pressure medication. Keep in mind that smoking causes your blood pressure to temporarily rise every time you smoke. A 2005 study even showed that cigarettes could weaken the effects of blood pressure medications, like amlodipine. Hypertension is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Researchers in a 2021 study observed a lower risk of cardiovascular disease for people who reduced their smoking.
- maintaining a moderate weight
- getting regular exercise
- limiting the amount of alcohol you drink
- eating a nutritious, balanced diet that is low in salt
- taking any blood pressure medications your doctor has prescribed to you
- taking steps to manage and limit stress