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Health Tip: Smoking Strains the Heart

Here's how

(HealthDay News) -- Smokers may love the habit, but tobacco smoke doesn't love the heart.

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says smoking can harm the heart in many ways, including:

  • Causing thickened blood, making it more difficult for the blood to transport oxygen throughout the body.
  • Increasing blood pressure and heart rate, forcing the heart to work harder.
  • Lowering HDL ("good") cholesterol and raising LDL ("bad") cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Causing abnormal heart rhythms and an increase in inflammation, which may cause a build-up of arterial plaque.
  • Causing hardening of the artery walls, which can cause narrowing and make it more difficult for the heart to pump blood.

-- Diana Kohnle

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