Long Term Exposure to Low Oxygen Levels: Smoker’s Polycythemia

Smoking along with extended low oxygen exposure is a common cause of cardiovascular disease and other health concerns. Long-term low-oxygen exposure raises erythropoietin production, which increases red blood cell mass and decreases plasma volume, causing blood viscosity to rise, decreasing blood flow and exposing people vulnerable to vaso-occlusive events. Smoking can lead to secondary polycythemia and erythrocytosis, which can be harmful to smokers. The goal of this mini-review is to better understand the strong link between smoking and erythrocythemia as a cause of cardiovascular disease. As a physiologic response to increased erythropoietin synthesis related to broad tissue hypoxia, polycythemia in smokers is defined by an expansion of red cell mass with raised haemoglobin and hematocrit. With normal or artificially increased oxygen saturation values, hypoxia is found in smokers’ polycythemia. Furthermore, the need of being aware of cardiovascular risk in patients with polycythemia due to persistent smoking exposure is highlighted in this article.

Author(S) Details

Abeer Mohamed Shawky Eissa
Department of Cardiology, Faculty of Medicine, Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt.

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