Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease, but millions of people still light up every day. You most likely know that smoking can cause cancer and lung disease. But did you know that it can also hurt your heart and blood vessels?\nIf you quit smoking, you can lower your risk for many health problems. It\u2019s never too late to kick the nicotine habit. Learn how quitting can help you get on the path to a healthier, smoke-free life.\nHow Does Smoking Hurt Your Heart and Blood Vessels?\nAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking harms nearly every organ in your body.\nCigarettes have chemicals and other substances that can hurt your heart and blood vessels in many ways, including:\n\nTaking some of the \u201cgood\u201d cholesterol away from your blood\nTemporarily raising your blood pressure\nMaking your blood more likely to clot, which raises your risk of stroke\nLowering your ability to exercise, making it harder for you to stay at a healthy weight and keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels healthy\n\nSmoking also raises your risk of:\n\nAtherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, which happens when a hard substance called plaque builds up on your artery walls\nPeripheral artery disease (PAD), which happens when plaque blocks or narrows the arteries in your arms, legs, or pelvis\nStroke, which can be deadly\n\nHow Does Quitting Smoking Help?\nThe American Heart Association reports that quitting smoking helps your body within minutes. As time goes on, the benefits only get better.\nWhen you quit smoking:\n\n20 minutes later, your heart rate and blood pressure are lower\n12 hours later, the amount of carbon monoxide in your blood drops to normal\n2 weeks to 3 months later, your blood flow gets better\n1 year later, your risk of heart disease is half that of someone who still smokes\n\nDitch the cigarettes and keep more than 4,000 harmful ingredients out of your body. #quitsmoking Click To Tweet\nYou can lower your risk for heart and vascular disease by quitting smoking, and it\u2019s never too late. Not sure where to start? Talk to your doctor and learn about programs that can offer help and support.