As if there were not enough, cigarette smoke also contains carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a small gas molecule which has an unusual affinity for the hemoglobin or the molecule on our red blood cells which carries oxygen. In fact, carbon monoxide molecule is 200 times more likely to bind with hemoglobin than the oxygen molecule. For this reason, carbon monoxide is highly toxic. As carbon monoxide is inhaled, it displaces the oxygen molecules which are vital for all tissues in the human body.
But like nicotine, carbon monoxide has important effects upon blood clotting. Carbon monoxide thickens the blood by stimulating the production of fibrinogen. The upshot is a further increase in thickness or viscosity of the blood as it flows through tightened arteries.
The end result, then, is a decrease in blood flow and, consequently, oxygen to the tissues of the human body. In general, the further the tissues are away from the heart and lungs, the greater the effect. As we will see, these factors conspire to have their greatest effects upon the tissues of the feet and also the hands. All tissues in the human body are affected, but it is our intention to focus upon the effects upon the muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones, or the musculoskeletal system.
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