Preventing Heart Disease

Smoking cigarettes is a significant risk factor for many serious conditions, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, emphysema, and diabetes. Smoking also contributes to high blood pressure and low HDL ("good") cholesterol, which are themselves risk factors for heart disease. On average, the health risks from smoking shave seven to eight years off a person's life.

Dangers of Smoking

Chances are you know that smoking cigarettes is bad for your health. Here are some reminders about the dangers of smoking:

If you have ever tried to quit smoking and failed, you are not alone. Many people try to quit smoking several times before they succeed.

Nicotine is a powerfully addictive chemical. However, three to four days after a person quits smoking, nicotine leaves the blood and cravings for cigarettes start to weaken.

Benefits of Quitting

More than 60 million people around the world have quit smoking. You can, too!

Your risk of a heart attack drops quickly (within days) as soon as you stop smoking. After two years of remaining smoke-free, your risk is nearly as low as a nonsmoker.

When you stop smoking your body starts repairing itself almost immediately. The risk of heart attack, stroke, and cancer starts dropping immediately. Your cough becomes less and less severe. Food starts to taste better. Your sense of smell gets sharper. Your clothes will smell laundry-fresh. The nicotine stains on your hands or face will start to disappear. You'll discover you have a lot more pocket money.

Tips for Quitting Smoking

Make a list of your "trigger" situations, times you will most likely want cigarettes (with a cup of coffee or after dinner, for example). Brainstorm foodless, tobacco-less strategies for handling the cravings, for example:

Time your urges to smoke. Most urges go away in two to three minutes, whether or not you give in to them.

Get rid of all the ashtrays, lighters, and other smoking accessories in your home. Clean out the ashtray and remove the cigarette lighter in your car.

If you feel agitated or irritable when you try to quit smoking, ask your family members or co-workers to give you a temporary "grumpy" license. Explain that you're trying to quit smoking and ask them to be understanding until the irritable feelings pass.

Avoid alcohol. Drinking erodes your resolve and is often a "trigger" for smoking.

Save all the money you would've spent on cigarettes — it will add up quickly. When you stockpile enough, treat yourself to a weekend vacation or shopping spree.

Make a list of reasons for quitting smoking. Keep the list handy and refer to it often.

If you need medical assistance to quit smoking, see your doctor. Nicotine gum, patches, and new medicines that make quitting easier are now available and may be an option for you.

Steps You Can Take Today:

If you haven't decided to quit, try the following.

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