Most people are familiar with the negative effects that smoking has on the lungs and the increasing risks of throat and oral cancer, but they are often unaware or less concerned about the damage that smoking does to your vascular and arterial systems.
Smoking cigarettes causes toxic chemicals to enter your lungs and travel throughout your body. All smoking affects your heart negatively and causes damage. But the good news is, no matter how long or how much you’ve smoked, quitting will benefit you immensely. It’s never too late to stop smoking.
Arterial and Vascular Issues Caused by Smoking
• Causes inflammation in the arteries
• Increases heart rate
• Causes sticky plaque buildup in arteries (both coronary & peripheral)
• Raises LDL (bad cholesterol)
• Lowers HDL (good cholesterol)
• Blood vessel walls become stiff and damaged
• Creates abnormal heart rhythms
• Increases blood pressure
• Creates undue stress on your heart
• Lowers oxygen levels in blood
• Increased risk of stroke
• Increased risk of aneurysms
• Decreases oxygen
• Increases risk of blood clots
• Releases toxins, chemicals, and poisons into and throughout the body
Smoking Directly Contributes to PAD
The chemicals in the smoke are what causes atherosclerosis (arterial plaque). These chemicals negatively affect cholesterol levels and fibrinogen levels, which is a blood-clotting agent. These disturbances can lead to stroke, aortic aneurysms, peripheral vascular disease, heart attack, and abdominal aortic aneurysms, to name a few.
Talk to your doctor now about smoking cessation programs, treatment options, and medications to help you quit for good!
By quitting smoking, you can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease significantly.
Do You Have PAD?
Some of the common symptoms are pain in the leg or calf while walking. This is known as claudication,
and it usually subsides once a person rests for a period of time. Other symptoms are a weak pulse in the ankle or foot, hair loss on the legs and feet, burning or tingling in extremities, swelling of calves, dry skin, dark veins, ulcers on legs or feet, and shortness of breath.
Maintaining a healthy diet is critical to keeping your lipid levels in proper balance, coordinately it will assist in supporting the vascular structures through nutrient and antioxidant-dense foods. Dr. Becker, of The Vascular Center of Naples, typically, recommends a low-fat diet full of healthy fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Preventing atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries due to plaque buildup can be achieved through medications as well. However, if the blockage from PAD is severe and life-threatening, a medical procedure will be necessary to open and repair the artery to allow blood to flow normally again.
Because the veins and arteries balance each other out, when an individual is experiencing chronic symptoms, it’s critical to see a physician. If the veins are damaged, it’s not unusual that the arteries are not pumping blood efficiently either. PAD must be treated to prevent further damage to your circulatory system and your overall health. If you or someone you know is experiencing any venous or arterial issues, please contact your physician immediately.
Vascular Center of Naples Treatment
The most effective treatment for peripheral arterial disease and other vascular diseases is an endovascular treatment. Dr. Becker and Dr. Pfitzinger insert a catheter, a long, thin tube, through a small incision in your groin. They guide the catheter through your blood vessel to the blocked area and place a stent into the artery to keep it open and encourage blood flow. They may also use a balloon angioplasty to push plaque against the vessel wall and keep blood flowing.
This type of minimally invasive surgery ensures you have a faster recovery time, and it’s a good alternative for anyone who isn’t able to have open surgery. If you’re not a candidate for endovascular treatment, they may recommend a bypass, which is a procedure that reroutes blood flow to healthier vessels. This procedure requires general anesthesia but offers long-term benefits for improved circulation.
Russell Becker, DO
Dr. Becker received his fellowship training in vascular and endovascular surgery at Wayne State University in Detroit. He is board-certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery. He’s a fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons, and he retains active memberships with the Society for Vascular Surgery and the American Association for Vascular Surgery.
Dr. Becker has experience and interest in all areas of vascular and endovascular surgery, including treatment of conditions like carotid artery disease, hemodialysis access creation and maintenance, and diseases of the veins.
Beyond performing surgery, Dr. Becker is a well published author of vascular surgery literature. He has previously served as an investigator in numerous new and developing clinical device trials and has been a part of the clinical faculty in vascular surgery at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in East Lansing, Michigan.
Duke M. Pfitzinger, Jr., DO
Dr. Pfitzinger balanced his collegiate football career while obtaining his undergraduate degree from Southern Illinois University. He received his medical degree from Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. He then returned to Kansas to finish his general surgery residency at the University of Kansas. During his surgical training, he realized his passion for vascular surgery.
Dr. Pfitzinger then moved his wife and three kids south to North Carolina, where he fulfilled his interest in vascular surgery, completing his vascular fellowship at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has multiple publications and presented at national conferences. He has an interest in complex aortic reconstruction, carotid, and peripheral arterial disease treatments along with other aspects of vascular care. When he is not working, he spends time trying to keep up with his two boys and daughter and all things related to the water.
Vascular Center of Naples
1875 Veterans Park Drive, Suite 2203
Naples, FL 34109