Smoking is notorious for the damage it causes to lungs, but the dangers of smoking don’t stop there. Smoking can also wreak havoc on your vascular system 一 and that includes increasing your risk of peripheral aneurysm.
Our team of board-certified, fellowship-trained vascular surgeons at Vascular Specialists are experts at treating aneurysms once they develop, but we also want to share the dangers of smoking so you can further reduce your risk of developing one. Here’s what you need to know about the link between smoking and peripheral aneurysms.
Aneurysms are abnormal bulges that form in weakened areas of an artery. They can balloon out and rupture, which causes internal bleeding, but they can also contribute to blood clots that block the flow of blood in your artery.
A peripheral aneurysm is one that develops in any artery other than your aorta. The following aneurysms are all considered peripheral aneurysms:
Depending on where the aneurysm is located, you may notice weakness in your leg, pain when walking, ulcers, shiny skin on your legs, and even discolored toes. In many cases, you might not even realize you have an aneurysm until it bursts, which then becomes a medical emergency.
This is why it’s so important to take steps to prevent aneurysms and to manage the risk factors that are within your control.
One of the most dangerous elements of smoking is nicotine. Nicotine 一 a highly addictive stimulant drug 一 affects your cardiovascular system in a few ways. It can:
Together, these changes to your vascular system can damage your arteries. And as blood pressure increases in weakened areas of your artery, the tell-tale bulge forms.
Even if you don’t have an aneurysm, smoking cessation is still important. Quitting smoking can help reduce your risk of developing complications of smoking. One year after quitting, your risk of developing coronary artery disease is half of what a smoker’s is. That’s just one of the many health benefits of quitting smoking.
If you need help quitting, you can find many resources and support groups online. The American Lung Association offers several tips and tools. Illinois residents can find additional support via the Illinois Tobacco Quitline. You can also reach out to your Vascular Specialists provider for additional guidance.
If you do develop a peripheral aneurysm, getting treatment is an important step in avoiding complications, such as a ruptured aneurysm. Treatment depends on the size of your aneurysm and the severity of your symptoms. Your provider may recommend:
If you have concerns about peripheral aneurysms, contact Vascular Specialists and book your appointment today. We support your efforts to quit smoking for a healthier you.