WebMD confirms that smoking can cause atherosclerosis as it damages the thin layer of cells that line the arteries, causing plaques to form that thicken the artery walls and slow down the blood flow. Occasionally, plaques rupture causing blood clots which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
According to everydayhealth.com, smoking also plays a key role in the two other main causes of atherosclerosis: high blood pressure and high cholesterol. WebMD states that the nicotine in cigarette smoke causes an immediate increase in blood pressure. WebMD states further that experts believe smoking is directly responsible for lowering the level of “good” cholesterol in the blood whilst oxidising “bad” cholesterol, thereby increasing the likelihood of inflammation.