Smoking Leads to Infections, Plaque

Cigarette smoking turns the body into a breeding ground for infections, which can lead to artery-clogging plaque. Current and ex-smokers who had common chronic ailments -- such as bronchitis, ulcers, urinary-tract infections and gum disease -- were more than three times as likely to develop early atherosclerosis than people without such infections, according to a study in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. Infections also promoted artery disease in people exposed to secondhand smoke.