Effects of smoking on blood pressure

In this blood pressure experiments, I used a home blood pressure monitor (upper arm cuff), to measure my blood pressure before, during and after smoking a large cigar. I took readings every 5 minutes or so, to see if smoking would cause changes to my blood pressure.

Incidentally, I am not a doctor. These experiments are for my own curiosity, and I do not recommend you do the same.

Here are my results:

Time
Upper (systolic)
Lower (diastolic)
10:56 134 86
10:58 136 82
11:04 130 81
STARTED SMOKING THE CIGAR AT THIS POINT
11:07 149 92
11:12 142 91
11:17 144 89
11:22 146 91
11:26 140 89
11:30 130 87
11:34 135 86
11:38 138 89
11:44 136 92
11:50 136 93
11:53 134 91
FINISHED SMOKING CIGAR HERE
11:59 136 92
12:06 135 90
12:11 130 86
12:16 133 87

Here is the chart of this data:

smokingbloodpressure

While the graph may not look too impressive, you can see a large jump in blood pressure almost immediately. Before starting to smoke the cigar, the average blood pressure for the three preceding readings was 133/83. The first reading after starting to smoke was 149/92. That’s quite a jump.

The initial increase in blood pressure is spectacularly quick. Not surprising really, as smoke enters our bodies through the thin membranes of the lungs, as well as through the membranes in our mouth. This is why smokers can get a neat instant “hit” when they light up.

Blood pressure is raised for about 20 minutes before it returns back down to a more normal reading (that’s normal for me). When there is a stimulus to increase blood pressure, our bodies are going to try to combat that increase and lower the blood pressure. In this case it took about 20 minutes for my body to do so. Blood pressure then remained fairly constant for the remainder of the experiment.

It would be interesting to see how blood pressure would be affected if I continued to smoke all day (as in a chain smoker), and whether my body could compensate over a long period of time. I wont, however, be doing that experiment ;o)

Look out for new experiments soon. You’ll find them in the left hand menu.

About Andy

Andy writes for a number of health related sites but has always been fascinated by alternative medicine and home remedies. His deep interests in nature and the body's innate ability to heal itself (given the right condition) have lead him to a pivotal time in his life - and so, Holistic Home Fitness was born. While it's relatively new at the moment, Andy wants to build this site into a huge reference site for a more holistic approach to health and fitness.

Comments

  1. I did the same experiment, with almost identical results. The average of three readings prior to smoking were 137/78. After smoking half the cigar, I took a break and tool three additional readings (one every 60 seconds). The resulting average was 151/88. I finished the cigar, taking a couple of long draws to the point I felt dizzy, but found little additional change (153/87). Pulse was not increased by much ( 61/65/68). 20 minutes after the cigar was finished, three additional readings revealed an average pressure of 146/82.

  2. Hi Dave
    Good to see others trying some of their own experiments. How did oyu take your pressure? My equipement says not to repeat a measurement for at elast 3 minutes. Not sure why that is, but I notice you are taking three in three minutes. Did you notice much variation in the three readings taken every 60 seconds?

  3. I am 65 yo, undergoing treatment for COPD, smoke avg 1 pack /day for 50 years. Quit smoking 17 months before diagnosis. collapsed in Drs office-02 62%. On oxygen now plus advair plus this that and the next thing.

    It would have been more insightful in your self analysis to include weight, height, age, and whether you are active or sedentary. Do you have sleep apnaea?

    You might as well put a mirror under your nose each morning and if you see fog-your alive-lol.

    Since the knowledge i am gaining at this time tells us PB/HR/02 levels are monitoring tools, they do not tell the underlying problems that may or may not exist. It s just a guide.

  4. Hi Vic
    I am happy to answer your questions, but please remember that these experiments are personal “journeys” for me and must not be used as medical advice. In fact, I started this web site because I had high blood pressure (140/100) and wanted to reduce it naturally. I figured that by writing about the problem, I could learn along the way.

    When I did this experiment, I was around 40, overweight by about 20 Kg, 6 foot tall, and fairly sedentary. No, I do not have sleep apnea, though I was an insomniac.

    A couple of years on, I have given up smoking altogether, lead an active life, dropped 15 Kg, and my blood pressure is now well below 120/80

  5. I check my bp 3 times in 3 days.

    1st day — 160/90
    2nd day — 125/85
    3rd day — 145/90

    do i have HBP ?
    then why 2nd day is normal?
    This is a doubt for me…

    • Suranga, the low reading could very easily have occured for a combination of reasons (including slightly loose cuff, the fact you’re measuring yourself and not by a certified professional, how much caffeine/stimulants you have had in the last 24 hours, if you exercised prior that day, hydration levels, etc.)

      I will say that, as a certified personal trainer and having a masters in exercise science, You most definitely have high blood pressure, and should consult a medical professional.

      I came across this because i smoke cigars, and was looking into if anyone else tested the affects of cigars on BP

      personally, heres my info/results (my BP was tested by a colleague using equipment we signed out from the lab (much more accurate than a CVS cuff…)

      I am:

      5’9
      215 lbs (~8-10bodyfat)

      for reference i smoked a los blancos NINE (a 7.5×52 cigar, which took 2 hours to smoke and really kicked me with nicotine because i usually smoke smaller cigars and only smoke on weekends)

      pre-smoke (average of 5 readings): 114/72
      mid smoke (average of 5): 110/69
      just after finishing (average of 5): 109/68
      Now, it’s not a significant difference, but it seems that any blood pressure increase i would have experienced from nicotine (it is a stimulant) was negated by the fact that cigar smoking greatly relaxes me, as my heart rate actually increased!
      (taken at carotid artery)
      pre: 55 bpm
      mid: 58 bpm
      end: 62 bpm

      hope that helps anyone.. haha