Losing More Than Your Lungs

For the last 50 years, the rate of smoking has dropped precipitously from 42% to 15% of all Americans. However, thousands of young smokers take up the habit every day. Many know of the effects of cigarettes on the lungs, including lung cancer but few know of the effects on the legs and feet. The effects of nicotine on the vascular supply can result in peripheral arterial disease in which the arteries undergo narrowing and/or blockage from damage. Loss of blood supply to the legs and feet can result in tissue death and amputation. In some people, Buerger’s disease in which inflammation of the medium and small blood vessels also results in distal tissue death and amputation. Any wounds developed while smoking may slow or stop healing. Bones become less dense as smoking may increase the risk of fracture.

Although difficult, it is possible to stop smoking.

Smoking cessation tips that may be recommended by your doctor or podiatrist:

  • A number of medications are available to help smokers quit
  • It is important to form a support system with friends and family to help encourage you as you quit
  • Often hypnosis or cognitive behavioral therapy can improve your odds of quitting
  • Alternatives to cigarettes or chew include a lower risk of cancer but may have other negative effects since nicotine can cause constriction of the vasculature and e-cigarettes are known for causing popcorn lung; if possible it is better to cease all smoking and nicotine use
  • .gov and other sites are available with tips and tricks to become and stay smoke free

Many of the recommendations from your doctor may work for you, but each person is different. The good news is that once you stop smoking, the effects on the vasculature can improve within a year and resolve within 5 years if the tissue is not dead. Talk to your doctor or podiatrist today about quitting smoking. You will be happy you did.

Please visit our website for more information or call 614-885-3338 (FEET) to schedule an appointment with us at our Columbus, Gahanna or Dublin, OH office.