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Vascular Pathology from Smoking: Look at the Microcirculation!

[ Vol. 11 , Issue. 4 ]


Aurelio Leone and Linda Landini   Pages 524 - 530 ( 7 )


Both conduit and resistance arterial vessels may show vascular morphological and functional alterations due to cigarette smoking. Pathological lesions involve the arterial wall or intravascular lumen with, primarily, narrowing and thrombo-embolic events as an effect of endothelial and blood cell changes related to smoking. Functional disorders are the result of a wide spectrum of biochemical, physiological and metabolic factors. While conduit vessel alterations have been widely investigated, little is known about the changes induced by smoking on the microcirculation. It would seem that the endothelium, platelet aggregation and adhesiveness, nervous system and metabolic changes play a role in damaging resistance arteries and, then, the microcirculation. The result of these effects changes the blood flow and perfusion particularly to the heart, brain and kidney. Alterations of the microcirculation can cause severe and widespread damage because, in addition to the complications of the atherosclerotic lesion which characterizes large arteries, there is a failure of body organs linked to the degree of microvascular damage. Moreover, it seems that 2 major compounds of cigarette smoke are capable of determining vascular damage; initially, nicotine acts preferably on large arteries and carbon monoxide on small arteries, although both compounds damage the vascular system.


Smoking, microcirculation, carbon monoxide, nicotine, cardiomyopathy.


Department of Internal Medicine, City Hospital Massa, Via Provinciale 27, 19030 Castelnuovo Magra (SP), Italy.

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