Smoking permanently damages arteries

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Quitting smoking is worthwhile at any age. Some health damage can be reversed. But the consequences of smoking in the arteries are remarkably persistent.

After a few years of quitting smoking, the heart and lungs begin to regenerate, and the risk of heart attack and cancer decreases. But the arteries remain damaged, explains specialist Michaela Kluckner from the University Clinic for Vascular Surgery in Innsbruck. Damage already done to arteries can no longer be reversed. If, for example, a vessel is already thickened and deposits have formed, this causes the body to continue to form new deposits there even after the smoking has been stopped.

In the carotid artery, this can trigger a stroke. This can lead to circulatory problems in the legs, resulting in pain, open sores, and even amputations. However, the good news is that stopping smoking prevents severe further deterioration of the condition. And if you live a healthier lifestyle on top of that, your chances of living a long life improve considerably.

Smoking cessation in conjunction with lifestyle
These are measures that anyone can take and have to do with a healthier lifestyle. Blood pressure can be improved with a healthy diet and exercise. Walking a lot also helps to form bypasses, explains Michaela Kluckner. Bypasses are small side branches of the vessels that grow over time and function like a bypass.

“In the main vessel, there is a high-grade narrowing or occlusion. Above that, a branch goes off and then reconnects to the vessel below the existing narrowing, so blood comes into the leg through that circuit,” Michaela Kluckner says.

Even those who have smoked for 30 or more years can improve their health by stopping smoking. However, in particular, young people should not start smoking in the first place; more information about permanent damage would be necessary here, says Michaela Kluckner.

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