Tobacco is a known stimulant, but millions of Americans smoke to relax every day. Tobacco is a highly addictive stimulant that contains nicotine and carbon monoxide, among other chemicals, and according to the American Council for Drug Educations smokers constantly experience withdrawal from nicotine unless they are smoking. The relaxing feeling they describe when they smoke is probably the result of having their craving satisfied.
Your heart rate is measured by how many times your heart beats in a minute and according to Medline Plus, it usually falls between 60 and 100 beats per minute for adults and children over 10. Athletes may have lower pulses of between 40 and 60 beats per minute. The pulse can be taken by placing your index and middle fingers over an artery, most commonly at the neck, wrist, temple or groin.
Tobacco's Effect on Heart Rate
Nicotine causes your veins and arteries to constrict, meaning your heart has to work harder than usual to pump the blood around your system. This sends your blood pressure and heart rate soaring. But you don’t even have to be a smoker to suffer these effects. According to the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program, even passive smokers are susceptible to disease of the arteries.
The Other Dangers of Smoking
An accelerated pulse rate is a short term effect but it’s not the only danger of smoking. The habit is also associated with raised blood pressure, thickening of the artery walls, decreased levels of oxygen, loss of the sensations of taste and smell, heart and lung disease and cancers of the mouth, lung, heart or throat.
Peripheral Artery Disease
This common circulatory problem is characterized by reduced blood flow caused by the narrowing of arteries. It is increasingly more common and is likely to signal a larger problem by which fatty deposits in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, cause blocking, meaning that your heart has to work harder and your pulse rate quickens. The good news is the disease is treatable. The Mayo Clinic suggests that sufferers quit smoking, begin an exercise regimen and eat healthy food. However, you should check with a health professional before making any lifestyle changes.
The government tells us the body starts healing 20 minutes after your last cigarette. Your pulse rate will drop again and your oxygen levels will go back to normal as the nicotine and other chemicals leave your body. It takes three days for the nicotine to be fully gone, but by then you should start to find breathing easier, your cough should leave and your senses of smell and taste should improve. Look at the Smoke Free website for advice and hints on quitting.