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The Effects Of Smoking On The Cardiovascular System

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I am doing my cardiovascular patient education project on the cardiovascular effects of smoking. I decided that before I could properly and honestly educate a patient on the cardiovascular effects of smoking, that I should examine my own smoking habit and educate myself. I have been a smoker on and off for a large portion of my life.

It all started when I was about 11 and one of my friends "liberated" some cigarettes from one of his parents. A small group of us went into the wooded area behind where I grew up and proceeded to try cigarettes for the first time. The cigarettes made us dizzy and nauseous, but boy did we think we were cool!

Luckily, cigarettes were not always readily available, so my smoking in my pre-teen years was extremely limited. However, sadly, when I was 12 my father passed away from colorectal cancer. My Mom and I lived alone for about a year after my father's death and then she met and started dating the man that would become my stepfather, who was a smoker. He has since that time, thankfully, quit smoking after having triple bypass open-heart surgery.

My stepfather also had children who were older than me. One of my stepbrothers was 17 and a smoker. I was 13 by this time and fully embracing teenage rebellion and still trying to deal with my fathers passing. Cigarettes were a perfect outlet for my teen angst and my older stepbrother was more than happy to purchase cigarettes for me.

So that's where a large portion of my allowance and money earned from odd jobs around the neighborhood went. Still though at this point I was not yet a regular smoker. Smoking was still limited to when I wanted to look cool, like when I was hanging out with my friends and my brother.

Also around this same time I started playing the guitar and a large portion of the guitar players that I saw on MTV and in music magazines were smokers. Most of the musicians that I looked up to were smokers, as well as lots of the actors in the movies at the time. In the 1980's it still seemed cool to be a smoker.

Then when I was 15 my stepfather caught me smoking. I had somehow managed to hide my smoking from my parents for two years. My stepfather told me that he had also started smoking when he was a teenager and that since he was still a smoker he would feel like a hypocrite if he told me not to do it. He just told me that he wouldn't buy them for me.

He even went so far as to tell his friend that managed the local convenience store near our home that it was okay to sell me cigarettes, since my parents were aware of my smoking. All of this caused my smoking to greatly escalate, because I no longer had to hide it. To make matters worse my high school had a smoking area where all the cool kids hung out.

This was the point in my life where the addictive nature of cigarettes first became apparent to me. I would crave cigarettes during my classes at school and sometimes hanging out in the smoking area seemed more important than going to class at all. Since then I have struggled with cigarette addiction for all of my adult life. I have quit several times, but I always fall back into it.

Throughout my research on the cardiovascular effects of smoking I found lots of alarming information that will cause me to once again take pause and seriously re-examine my habit. For example smoking kills more people than AIDS, murder, drugs, suicide, alcohol, and car crashes combined. Also when most people think of cigarette related deaths, they usually think of lung cancer. I found out that many more people die from the cardiovascular effects of smoking than from lung cancer. Most smokers don't live long enough to develop and die from lung cancer.

Most smokers die from heart attacks and strokes and when they are autopsied, pre-cancerous lesions are found on their lungs, that had the stroke or heart attack not killed the victim first, then they would have died from lung cancer. Cigarettes contain two extremely toxic chemical poisons nicotine and carbon monoxide. Nicotine as we all know is a highly addictive substance,



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