High Blood Pressure And Smoking

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is the persistent rise in the pressure with which the heart pumps blood to the other parts of the body. High blood pressure, otherwise called hypertension, is a chronic disease of the cardiovascular system.

Blood pressure is measured using two values. The first value is the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart beats, otherwise called systolic blood pressure. The second value represents the pressure when the heart rests between beats, otherwise called diastolic blood pressure. 

To ascertain that someone is hypertensive, the blood pressure should be monitored over a long period. If the systolic blood pressure is persistently greater than or equal to (>=) 140mmHg and the diastolic blood pressure is persistently >= 90mmHg, then it can be concluded that the person is hypertensive, hence adequate medical measures should be initiated immediately.¹ Hypertension is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and premature death.² Statistically, more than half the population of adults in the United States (47%) live with hypertension, although this is slightly higher than in the UK. ²

Causes of hypertension are classified into two; modifiable risk factors and non-modifiable risk factors. The non-modifiable risk factors include: 

The modifiable risk factors include: 

  • Smoking
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Alcohol consumption.

While hypertension may not have pronounced symptoms, being a ‘’silent killer’’, the following symptoms may be present: 

  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Buzzing sound in the ears
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Chest pain.

An accurate diagnosis of hypertension involves blood pressure being monitored over a period of time by a healthcare professional.

Smoking increases blood pressure

Smoking cigarettes causes a considerable elevation in blood pressure.² The nicotine in cigarettes stimulates the adrenergic receptor which leads to the release of catecholamine hormones like adrenaline, and vasopressin as well.² Vasopressin is a hormone that mediates the tubular reabsorption of water in the kidney. When vasopressin is released as a result of the nicotine, it reduces the kidney urine output thereby increasing the blood volume. This results in consequent elevation of blood pressure.   

Nicotine causes spikes in blood pressure.

As one continues with the intake of nicotine through smoking of cigarettes, the accumulation causes persistent elevation in vasopressin secretion. Over time, this causes a considerable elevation in blood pressure. Hence, it causes spikes in the short-term but can lead to long-term hypertension if nicotine is administered frequently.

Tips for quitting smoking

To quit smoking, it requires both your intentional efforts and that of those around you.

The following has worked on many occasions and can be replicated or tailored down to what would work for you:

  • Make a strong decision to quit
  • Write out the reasons why you want to quit
  • Follow it up with the health and financial implications of smoking
  • Tell people around you of your decision to quit; friends and family
  • Get involved in activities that can easily distract you from remembering to smoke
  • Get involved with exercise always
  • Dissociate yourself from your peers that you smoke alongside.
  • Use some quit-smoking kits
  • Review your plans if you are tempted to smoke again
  • Keep smoking aside by getting busy
  • If you fail on this, start all over again. 

Summary

Hypertension is referred to as a ‘Silent killer’ because most people with this are unaware of this.

Proper caution should be taken at all times to minimize the risk. The modifiable risk factors like diet and lifestyle in which smoking falls should always be attended to.

Accumulation of nicotine keeps stimulating the adrenergic receptor, leading to the release of vasopressin which results in fluid accumulation as a result of excessive water reabsorption. Adequate measures should be put in place to quit smoking, in order to reduce the risk of hypertension.

References

  1. Hypertension [Internet]. [cited 2022 Sep 25]. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hypertension
  2. Vaughan AS, Coronado F, Casper M, Loustalot F, Wright JS. County‐Level Trends in Hypertension‐Related Cardiovascular Disease Mortality—United States, 2000 to 2019. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2022 Apr 5;11(7):e024785.

Valentine Okoye Chimezie

Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles.