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Smoking Cessation Health Center

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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:

  • Reduces how much oxygen your heart gets
  • Raises your blood pressure
  • Speeds up your heart rate
  • Makes blood clots more likely, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes
  • Harms the insides of your blood vessels, including those in your heart

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.

How Can I Avoid Smoking Again?

Don't carry a lighter, matches, or cigarettes. Keep all of these smoking reminders out of sight.

If you live with someone who smokes, ask them not to smoke around you, or better yet, to quit with you.

Don't focus on what you're missing. Think about the healthier way of life you're gaining.

When you get the urge to smoke, take a deep breath. Hold it for up to 10 seconds and exhale slowly. Repeat this several times until the urge to smoke passes.

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