What is the Normal Pulse Rate for a Smoker?

Smoking is one of the largest preventable health issues in the United States. It is linked with cancer and a variety of cardiac and lung diseases. With this in mind, much research has been done to document these effects, as well as the effects of quitting. Within 15 years of quitting smoking, the effects on a person’s body are generally mitigated, and the risk of smoking-related illness or death is all but eliminated. This does not, however, change the immediate effects of cigarette smoking on factors such as heart rate.

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Significance of Pulse Rate

Resting heart rate is considered to be a good barometer of overall health. The lower your pulse rate, the healthier you are considered to be. Consider that well-trained athletes are expected to have a pulse rate of 40 to 60 beats per minute (bpm), while the average adult clocks in between 60 and100 bpm. A lower resting heart rate means that your body processes blood more efficiently, putting less strain on your organs.

Immediate Effects of Smoking on Pulse Rate

Smoking has an immediate effect on a person’s heart rate. While smoking, a person’s heart rate jumps by about 30 percent. This means a healthy person with a heart rate of 80 bpm attains a heart rate of 104 bpm while smoking a cigarette. These effects do not end immediately, but instead last for approximately 10 minutes after the cigarette is finished. Every new cigarette someone smokes during the day duplicates this effect.

Long-term Effects

The resting pulse rates of smokers and non-smokers remain very similar if they are not smoking at the moment. However, a study for the American Heart Association shows that heavy smokers’ hearts tend to beat slightly faster than the hearts of those who have never smoked--usually just a few beats per minute.

Effects of Pulse Rate on Blood Pressure

Generally speaking, the faster the heart rate, the higher the blood pressure. Most of the time, a person with a healthy heart doesn't experience any significant rises or drops in blood pressure due to an increased heart rate, either due to exercise or drugs. This is because the body widens the arteries, relieving the pressure on the circulatory system. However, smoking does immediately increase blood pressure. It's generally found that smokers have lower blood pressures overall than non-smokers.


Smoking is hazardous to your health, Quitting greatly reduces your risk of death due to cardiac or lung diseases, and the longer you remain smoke-free the more significant these effects are. Apart from an elevated heart rate and blood pressure, smoking can can also lead to emphysema, hypertension, coronary diseases and lung cancer. It is strongly recommended that you quit smoking or never start at all.