People with hypertension (high blood pressure) who smoke are at serious risk for a number of health problems, in addition to the many illnesses to which all smokers are vulnerable. When smoking is added to hypertension, and high cholesterol the risk of heart attack, stroke, and sudden death increases more and more. Smoking also hastens the development of renal disease and other organ damage that can occur from chronic hypertension. Still about 20% of people with hypertension in the United States continue to smoke.
Carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and a number of free radicals are some of the compounds in cigarette smoke that can damage the circulatory system and increase the health risks for people with hypertension. Like for all people who have tobacco dependence, a combination of medication and counseling or support is the most effective ways for stopping smoking. However, some people might be concerned that medications could worsen blood pressure.
Many studies have found that nicotine replacement seems to be quite safe for people with hypertension. Nicotine can cause constriction of the blood vessels, and nicotine replacement can increase blood pressure for non-smokers, but studies with smokers have found that blood pressure does not increase when using nicotine replacement, probably because they have developed a tolerance for nicotine from smoking. And nicotine replacement will make success in stopping more likely.
Bupropion and Chantix are two non-nicotine medications that are effective for stopping smoking. Chantix has been found to have no effect on blood pressure, but bupropion can increase blood pressure in some people. People who want to take bupropion for stopping smoking should have a discussion with their health care provider about this if hypertension is a concern.
If you have hypertension, you’ll be well served by stopping smoking. Becomeanex.org, phone or in-person counseling options, and/or your health care provider can give you the support and expert advice that can help you quit for good.