Did you know that smoking and heart disease are related? Or that smoking increases blood pressure? Most people associate cigarette smoking with breathing problems and lung cancer. But people who smoke are more also likely to develop hypertension and heart disease.
About 30% of all deaths from heart disease in the U.S. are directly related to cigarette smoking. That's because smoking is a major cause of coronary artery disease, especially in younger people.
Are you worried about high blood pressure in yourself, a family member, or a friend? Your concern is well-founded. If left untreated, high blood pressure -- also called hypertension -- can lead to a range of health problems, including heart disease and stroke. Knowing more about high blood pressure can help you prevent this condition from damaging your health, or the health of someone you love. You can start by learning what's true about this condition -- and what's not. Here are five common misconceptions...
A person's risk of heart attack greatly increases with the number of cigarettes he or she smokes and the longer a person smokes, the greater their risk of heart attack. People who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day have more than twice the risk of heart attack than non-smokers. Women who smoke and also take birth control pills increase several times their risk of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
How Does Smoking Increase Heart Disease Risk?
The nicotine present in tobacco products causes:
Decreased oxygen to the heart
Increased blood pressure and heart rate
Increase in blood clotting
Damage to cells that line coronary arteries and other blood vessels
How Can Quitting Smoking Be Helpful?
If you quit smoking, you will:
Prolong your life
Reduce your risk of disease (including heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, lung cancer, throat cancer, emphysema, ulcers, gum disease, and other conditions)
Feel healthier; after quitting, you won't cough as much, you'll have fewer sore throats and you will increase your stamina
Look better; quitting can help you prevent face wrinkles, get rid of stained teeth, and improve your skin's appearance.
Improve your sense of taste and smell
How to Quit Smoking
There's no one way to quit smoking that works for everyone. To quit, you must be ready both emotionally and mentally. You must also want to quit smoking for yourself and not to please your friends or family. It helps to plan ahead. This guide may help get you started.
What Should I Do First to Stop Smoking?
Pick a date to stop smoking and then stick to it.
Write down your reasons for quitting. Read over the list every day, before and after you quit. Here are some other tips:
Write down when you smoke, why you smoke, and what you are doing when you smoke. You will learn what triggers you to smoke.
Stop smoking in certain situations (such as during your work break or after dinner) before actually quitting.
Make a list of activities you can do instead of smoking. Be ready to do something else when you want to smoke.
Ask your doctor about using nicotine gum or patches. Some people find these aids helpful.
Join a smoking cessation support group or program. Call your local chapter of the American Lung Association.
Talk to your physician who may recommend medications to help combat nicotine craving and also help with information on using nicotine substitutes, such as a patch or gum.
How Can I Avoid Relapsing?
Don't carry a lighter, matches, or cigarettes. Keep all of these smoking reminders out of sight.
If you live with a smoker, ask that person not to smoke in your presence.
Don't focus on what you are missing. Think about the healthier way of life you are gaining.
When you get the urge to smoke, take a deep breath. Hold it for 10 seconds and release it slowly. Repeat this several times until the urge to smoke is gone.
Keep your hands busy. Doodle, play with a pencil or straw, or work on a computer.
Change activities that were connected to smoking. Take a walk or read a book instead of taking a cigarette break.
When you can, avoid places, people, and situations associated with smoking. Hang out with non-smokers or go to places that don't allow smoking, such as the movies, museums, shops, or libraries.
Don't substitute food or sugar-based products for cigarettes. Eat low-calorie, healthful foods (such as carrot or celery sticks, sugar-free hard candies) or chew gum when the urge to smoke strikes so you can avoid weight gain.
Drink plenty of fluids, but limit alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. They can trigger urges to smoke.
Exercise. It will help you relax.
Get support for quitting. Tell others about your milestones with pride.
Work with your doctor to develop a plan using over-the-counter or prescription nicotine-replacement aids.