If you are trying to quit smoking by using a nicotine patch, thatâ€™s great!Â However, you might be wondering what the side effects of a nicotine patch are and whether they will increase your blood pressure.
Nicotine stimulates the central nervous system. Whether you smoke a cigarette or absorb nicotine from a patch, your body responds by releasing a hormone called epinephrine (adrenaline). Its effects range from increased energy and awareness to high blood pressure, a rise in heart rate, and nervousness.
Nicotine from patches, gum or inhalers does not raise blood pressure in most people, and it is not usually a very dramatic effect. Nicotine inhalers (which boost nicotine levels in the blood more quickly than other nicotine medications) raise blood pressure in about 1 of every 30 people who use them.
High blood pressure with the use of a nicotine patch (or gum, inhaler, lozenge, or nasal spray) may mean you are taking too much nicotine. However, high blood pressure by itself, or accompanied by nervous jitters and a fast heart rate, can be a sign of nicotine withdrawal. So the increase in your blood pressure could also mean you are not getting enough nicotine in the patch. For heavy smokers, a nicotine patch sometimes doesnâ€™t deliver enough nicotine to replace what they had been getting from their cigarettes. Talk with your doctor to make sure you are taking the dose thatâ€™s right for your weight and former smoking habit.
Of course, smoking cigarettes can also raise blood pressure. Many people who smoke have a temporary increase in blood pressure of about 5 or 10 millimeters of mercury. This most commonly occurs after the first cigarette of the day. Heart rate also increases by about 10 or 15 beats per minute in many smokers after the first cigarette of the day.
When it comes to heart disease and blood pressure, smoking packs a devastating wallop. Nicotine raises your blood pressure, lowers â€œgoodâ€ HDL cholesterol, reduces your bodyâ€™s supply of oxygen, and makes blood clots more likely.
It can be difficult to quit smoking, despite all the health reasons to do so, because this habit is psychologically and physically addictive. Smoking cessation programs primarily address the psychological facets of addiction by helping participants change ingrained behaviors. Nicotine replacement systems â€” such as patches, chewing gum, and nasal sprays â€” target physical craving by delivering the addictive substance in another form, allowing the user to taper off gradually, minimizing withdrawal symptoms. According to the American Lung Association, research has found that using a nicotine replacement product and participating in a smoking cessation program doubles your chances of successfully quitting.
Quitting isnâ€™t easy, but it offers enormous benefits. Within hours of stopping smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure decrease, although it may take up to a month for them to return to normal. Within a year of quitting, your heart disease risk is cut in half. Within 15 years of giving up smoking, your risk of heart disease is close to that of nonsmokers.Â Even if you donâ€™t succeed this time (or youâ€™ve tried in the past but went back to smoking), try again.Â Most former smokers had to try several times to quit and each time they tried, it brought them a little closer to success!
What has your experience been with trying to quit smoking? Have you used any nicotine replacements? If so, did you notice that they affected your blood pressure?
Reducing your blood pressure even a little bit can dramatically improve your health and life expectancy. Harvard Medical Schoolâ€™s report, Hypertension: Controlling the silent killer, lays out a step-by-step lifestyle program you can use to lower your blood pressure. It also covers blood pressure monitoring and medications. With the information available today, there is no need for hypertension to be a killer any longer.