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The effects of smoking on the cardio-respiratory system

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Cardio-respiratory System Lindzi Eaton- Ward The cardio-respiratory system consists of the cardio-vascular system working together with the respiratory system. These systems work together to transport oxygen to the muscles and organs of the body and to remove waste products including carbon dioxide. Humans need energy to carry out processes of life. In particular, energy is needed for growth and repair, and to keep the body temperature stable. The energy is obtained from the oxidation of organic molecules such as glucose. Respiration uses glucose and oxygen and produces carbon dioxide, water, and energy. This goes on constantly in every living cell of the body, and to keep the process going, the body must obtain a constant supply of oxygen and excrete carbon dioxide as waste, (Boyle 2002) The main function of the cardio-respiratory system is to link the circulatory system with the atmosphere. Its structure provides an environment that enables oxygen to be passed into the blood and carbon dioxide to be excreted. The two main processes taking place in the respiratory system are breathing/ventilation and gaseous exchange. Breathing/ventilation is the movement of air in and out of the lungs. Gaseous exchange is the movement from the air in the alveoli of the lungs to the blood capillaries surrounding them; this process is called external respiration. The process, which takes place inside the cells, when oxygen and glucose are used to produce energy, is called internal respiration. ...read more.


However, the blood returns to the heart, giving it a boost so that it can reach all the body parts quickly, (Boyle 2002) The hearts structure is mainly cardiac muscle - specialised tissue that contracts automatically, powerfully and without tiring. The thickness of the walls in the heart chambers reflects on their function. The atria are thinly muscled: they pump blood the shortest distance to the ventricles directly below them. The right ventricle is more heavily muscled than either of the atria: it has to force blood a further distance to the lungs. The left ventricle has the thickest wall: it has to push blood all around the body, (see appendix 2) for this process. The effects of smoking can have serious consequences to the structure and function of the cardio-respiratory system. People suffer with terrible illnesses such as, cardio-vascular disease - this is the main cause of death due to smoking. The hardening of the arteries is a process that develops over years when cholesterol and other fats deposit in the arteries leaving them narrow, blocked, or rigid. When the arteries narrow (atherosclerosis), blood clots are likely to form. Smoking accelerates the hardening and narrowing process in the arteries: it starts earlier and blood clots are two to four times more likely. Cardiovascular disease can take many forms depending on which blood vessels are involved, and all of them are more common in people who smoke. ...read more.


(Netdoctor 2007) Looking at the above statistics it is clear to see that smoking does have serious consequences on health. While it was an encouraged habit in the 1950's it is far from encouraged now, with the government banning cigarette smoking in all public places and health warnings being constantly in the media, hoping to result in the public either quitting smoking or not starting at all. The effects of stopping smoking take effect from as little as 8 hours after the last cigarette is smoked. After 8 hours, nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in the blood are reduced by half and oxygen levels return to normal. 24 hours later and carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body. Lungs start to clear out mucus and other smoking debris. It only takes 48 hours for nicotine to leave the body, with the ability to taste and smell being greatly improved. Breathing becomes easier after 72 hours, bronchial tubes begin to relax, and energy levels increase. Between 3 - 9 months after stopping smoking, coughs, wheezing and breathing problems improve as lung function is increased by 10%. 5 years after stopping smoking and the risk of a heart attack falls to about half of that of a smoker. Finally, 10 years after stopping smoking and the risk of lung cancer falls to half of that of a smoker. The risk of a heart attack falls to the same as someone who has never smoked. (Go smoke free leaflet 2007) ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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