There is SO much information/MISinformation out there about how nicotine replacements are harmful for our hearts! But, is it? Literature has been plentiful, since the 90’s on how nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is much safer for our heart health and blood vessels, than smoking!
Yes, nicotine can cause constriction of blood vessels. Although when smokers use NRT, this doesn’t seem to happen, probably because they are used to using the high doses delivered from cigarettes. Not to mention, nicotine alone does not have 7000 chemicals released when burned, like tobacco, which include cancer-causing agents, heart disease, and stroke-causing agents. Therefore, when looking at harm reduction, nicotine replacement therapy is a viable option.
What about heart attacks? Individuals, with heart disease who are able to stop all tobacco use, can have a rapid drop in the recurrence of acute heart events and slowed or stopped “hardening of their arteries”. Nicotine patches have shown to be of benefit in aiding smoking cessation and is a prominent feature of Clinical Practice Guidelines for smoking cessation by major healthcare institutions and organizations.
Does it affect blood pressure? We know that nicotine has effects on blood vessels that can lead to increase in heart rate and blood pressure and cause constriction of the blood vessels. But at the same time, wearing a nicotine patch can lead to lower nicotine levels in the blood than cigarette smoking and will lead to many fewer bad effects on the heart, than smoking. Tobacco and its components cause blood vessel constriction; they cause a roughness in the vessels where normal cholesterol needed for body building and body repair collects, as it flows through the body; and, we know that tobacco products “latch” on to the oxygen in our blood stream, leaving carbon monoxide (a waste product from the blood), for our heart and blood vessels to work on, rather than rich oxygen.
Not everyone will choose to use nicotine replacement therapy but get to know the facts and talk with your doctor to make the choice that will lead to a healthier you! There are SO many misconceptions regarding tobacco cessation aids, for more information ask your healthcare team and visit BecomeAnEX.org! Good luck, YOU are well on your way!
Kathy Zarling, MS, APRN