Effect of Smoking on the Cardiovascular System of Man
In normal subjects smoking or the injection of nicotine produces transient vascular effects on the heart and blood vessels. Apparently tobacco angina or tobacco heart is a clinical entity. Abnormal vascular responses after smoking in normal subjects may be due to hypersensitivity to nicotine, such as occurs in tobacco heart, or to the effect of nicotine on a vascular system demonstrated to be hyperreactive by the cold pressor test.
Tobacco is one of the most prominent contributing factors in thromboangiitis obliterans, as thromboangiitis is rarely found in nonsmokers.
The question as to whether the effects of smoking are due to sudden increased work of the heart or constriction of the coronary artery has stimulated a great amount of research. There is evidence to support both theories.
The findings of abnormal ballistocardiograms before and after smoking in the offspring of hypertensive parents and after smoking in the offspring of parents with coronary heart disease are highly important.
Statistically coronary artery disease seems to occur more frequently and at an earlier age in the person who smokes much than in the nonsmoker. Likewise, the mortality rate is higher among younger persons with coronary disease who are smokers than among those who are nonsmokers.
- © 1958 American Heart Association, Inc.