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    Smoking and Heart Disease

    You probably know that cigarette smoking causes breathing problems and lung cancer. But did you know it also makes you more likely to have a heart attack?

    Every cigarette you smoke makes you more likely to get heart disease. Roughly 1 out of 5 deaths from heart disease is directly related to smoking.

    People who smoke are two to four times more likely to get heart disease. The risk is even greater for women who smoke and also take birth control pills.

    Cigarette smoke is also bad for the people around you. Secondhand smoke can cause heart disease and lung cancer in people who don't smoke.

    How Does Smoking Cause Heart Disease?

    The nicotine in smoke:

    How Does Quitting Smoking Help?

    Soon after you stop, your odds of getting heart disease or high blood pressure will drop. After 1 to 2 years of not smoking, you'll be much less likely to get heart disease.

    Of course, kicking the habit also makes you less likely to get lung cancer and many other types of cancer, emphysema, and many other serious conditions.

    The bottom line: Odds are you'll live longer, and you'll feel better.

    How to Quit Smoking

    It helps to plan ahead. Set a date to stop smoking and then stick to it.

    Write down your reasons for quitting smoking. Read over the list every day, before and after you quit.

    Keep a record of when you smoke, why you smoke, and what you're doing when you smoke. You'll learn what triggers you to smoke.

    You may want to first stop smoking cigarettes in certain situations, such as during your work break or after dinner, before actually quitting.

    Make a list of things you can do instead of smoking. Be ready to do something else when you want to smoke.

    Ask your doctor about medication or about using nicotine gum or patches. Some people find these aids helpful. For some, you'll need a doctor's prescription. Others are available over the counter, which means you don't need a prescription.

    Join a smoking cessation support group or program. Call your local chapter of the American Lung Association. Let family and friends know that you are quitting, and ask for their support. 

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