How Does Smoking Affect Your Heart?

Health risks of smoking are widely known, and its connection to breathing problems and lung cancer is prominent. But smoking's impact reaches far beyond your lungs. Cigarette smoking harms nearly every other organ in your body, including your heart.

In general, smoking causes blood to thicken, increasing the risk of blood clots and damage to blood vessel walls. This can lead to a condition called atherosclerosis, a disease in which plaque builds up in the arteries, eventually narrowing them and limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart. Smoking also can cause heart disease or eventually lead to chest pain, heart failure or a heart attack.

According to a multi-study analysis by The BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal), smoking as little as one cigarette per day carries a 50% higher risk of developing coronary artery disease and 30% higher risk of stroke compared to those who have never smoked. When combined with other unhealthy lifestyle factors such as unhealthy cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and obesity, the risk for heart disease grows even more.

The good news is that heart disease risk drops dramatically within the first year a person quits smoking. Quitting smoking can even lower your risk more than common medicines used to lower heart disease risk, such as aspirin or beta blockers.

Whether you're a constant smoker, trying to quit or previously have quit, learn more about your risk factors for developing heart disease by taking our heart health assessment. You'll find out your heart's real age and what you can do now to reduce your risk of developing heart disease in the future.

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Why Choose Us?

We know it can be concerning to suspect you may have a heart issue, especially if your symptoms don't immediately point to an obvious diagnosis. At Laredo Medical Center, we get to the heart of the matter by providing a wide spectrum of cardiac services from screening and evaluation to helping you maintain a more heart-healthy lifestyle and improve your overall health. The heart and vascular team is comprised of multi-specialty cardiac professionals from diverse backgrounds who are dedicated to providing the highest quality of cardiac care in Laredo, Texas, with more than 60 years of experience.

As a Primary Stroke Center and an Accredited Chest Pain Center, we use established best practices in heart care to help our patients receive accurate diagnoses. Our diagnostic and imaging capabilities help us to identify heart disease early, when it's most treatable. And, in the event that critical heart care is needed, our approach focuses on providing timely care to minimize heart damage and reduce the disruption to your life, all while helping you understand how best to implement a treatment plan that meets your specific heart care needs.

In addition, our facilities include interventional cardiology suites with updated technology to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of a range of patient conditions, including procedures for diagnostic catheterizations, stenting and balloon angioplasty. These suites allow us to offer electrophysiology services for the treatment of arrhythmias including atrial fibrillation (AFib).

About Our Services

The cardiac team at Laredo Medical Center offers a range of services including:

  • Cardiac screening and evaluation testing: cardiac stress test, dobutamine stress testing and echocardiogram
  • 24- and 48-hour heart monitoring/electrocardiogram
  • Arterial blood gas (ABG) testing
  • Cardiac catheterization labs
  • Electrophysiology studies
  • Specialized treatment for heart rhythm disorders, such as AFib, including cardioversions
  • Pulmonary function testing, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) management and asthma management
  • Cardiovascular and cardiothoracic surgery
  • Education and exercise-based heart and vascular rehabilitation

Laredo Medical Center is a Primary Stroke Center and an Accredited Chest Pain Center v6 with Primary PCI (Percutaneous Coronary Interventions), accredited by the American College of Cardiology.

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