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How Smoking Affects The Feet

smokingThere are around 2.6 million people who smoke in Australia. Although many people know that smoking is bad for their health, it can be very difficult to quit. The chemicals in cigarettes have been shown to affect the brain in a way that’s similar to how drugs like heroin cause addiction. Smoking has adverse effects on the body including the feet.
Smoking causes peripheral vascular disease. This happens when plaque builds up in your arteries, often affecting the arteries that run down the leg to your feet. As the arteries become stiff and narrowed the blood has trouble reaching your feet. You may experience symptoms such as pain in your legs while walking which is due to reduced blood flow to the muscles known as intermittent claudication. In severe cases you may feel pain at rest. It can also result in the foot and leg becoming cold and changing colour. Your hair skin and nails on your legs and feet may also change. Often there is little or no hair growth, the nails may become brittle and the skin can become flaky and fragile. You may notice sores or injuries to your feet are slow to heal or don’t heal at all. In some cases you may not notice any signs or symptoms.

If you smoke, your risk of developing this condition is four times greater than if you don’t. The evidence shows that if you are a smoker you’re likely to get peripheral vascular disease 10 years earlier than a non-smoker who develops peripheral vascular disease. If you have diabetes which is another common risk factor which can cause decrease the circulation to the feet, then you are putting your feet at high risk of damage.

The Good News

Research has shown that if you quit smoking before surgery your risk of complication reduces. Even if you stop 4 to 6 weeks before a surgical procedure and while your body is healing afterwards, you significantly lower your chance of developing problems.
Quitting smoking also slows down the worsening peripheral vascular disease in people who have the disease already. By stopping smoking the circulation can begin to improve in just two weeks. People who give up smoking tend to live longer and have less pain and are more likely to avoid amputation or foot complications. The earlier you quit, the lower your risk of developing symptoms.

Quitting Smoking

There is lots of available help out there to quit smoking. If you would like help to quit smoking, speak to your GP for further advice or visit

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Shop 2/17-19 East Parade
Sutherland, NSW 2232

Tel: 02 9542 3491