Smoking and atherosclerosis: mechanisms of disease and new therapeutic approaches

Curr Med Chem. 2014;21(34):3936-48. doi: 10.2174/092986732134141015161539.


It has been clear that at least 1 billion adults worldwide are smokers and at least 700 million children are passive smokers at home. Smoking exerts a detrimental effect to many organ systems and is responsible for illnesses such as lung cancer, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer of head and neck, cancer of the urinary and gastrointestinal tract, periodontal disease, cataract and arthritis. Additionally, smoking is an important modifiable risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease such as coronary artery disease, stable angina, acute coronary syndromes, sudden death, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, congestive heart failure, erectile dysfunction and aortic aneurysms via initiation and progression of atherosclerosis. A variety of studies has proved that cigarette smoking induces oxidative stress, vascular inflammation, platelet coagulation, vascular dysfunction and impairs serum lipid pro-file in both current and chronic smokers, active and passive smokers and results in detrimental effects on the cardiovascular system. The aim of this review is to depict the physical and biochemical properties of cigarette smoke and, furthermore, elucidate the main pathophysiological mechanisms of cigarette-induced atherosclerosis and overview the new therapeutic approaches for smoking cessation and augmentation of cardiovascular health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Atherosclerosis / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / therapy
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*