When to Seek Medical Care if You Smoke Cigarettes
Anyone, but especially smokers, with unexplained or sudden onset chest pain or difficulty breathing should go to the nearest hospital's emergency department, probably by ambulance. These conditions may be symptoms of a heart attack or other serious health problems, which can be life-threatening if not recognized and treated promptly. Tobacco use may cause problems (for example, hypertension, vascular alterations) that lead to shortness of breath or chest pain that may be life-threatening.
Tobacco use may lead or contribute to one of the following causes of dyspnea or chest pain:
- acute attack of emphysema,
- pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung),
- aortic aneurysm (a widening of the main artery leaving the heart, caused by a weakening in the wall of the artery), and
- aortic dissection (a tearing of the wall of the aorta, which, if it ruptures, bleeds profusely).