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Baylor Scott y White Heart and Vascular Hospital

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of illness and death in the U.S.

The #1 thing you can do to keep your heart and vascular system healthy and to prevent complications is to refrain from tobacco use. Yes, quitting smoking is that important.

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of illness and death in the United States and is known to affect all systems of your body. Smoking is also the primary cause of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and peripheral artery disease (PAD).

All forms of tobacco, including cigarettes, contain nicotine, which is a highly addictive drug that constricts blood vessels and thus increases blood pressure and heart rate. This can lead to atherosclerosis, a thickening and hardening of the arteries caused by cholesterol and lipid deposits, which puts your heart and circulatory system at great risk. At least 63 cancer-causing chemicals have been found in tobacco as well, further harming your body.

What to avoid

Tobacco products include:

  • Cigars
  • Cigarettes
  • Chew
  • Dip
  • Snuff

Avoiding secondhand smoke and vaping is important, as well.

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When you quit smoking, you improve your overall health

 
 

When you stop smoking, you:

  • Reduce your risk of cancer, lung disease, heart disease, stroke, emphysema and other smoking-related diseases
  • Help prevent pneumonia and bronchitis
  • Lose your smoker's cough
  • Stop smoking-related headaches
  • Enjoy better overall health

Quitting smoking also help others stay healthy by:

  • Reducing your family's risk of lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory infection and other health problems caused by secondhand smoke
  • Increasing your chance of having a healthy baby if you become pregnant

Finally, you will enjoy life more by:

  • Having a smoke-free home
  • Having more spending money
  • Increasing your energy level
  • Getting rid of cigarette breath, yellow teeth and fingers
  • Improving your sense of taste and your sense of smell

Quitting smoking can be difficult, but we know you can do it, and we are here to help

The first step to a healthier, non-smoking you is to talk to your cardiologist about quitting smoking and making other heart-healthy lifestyle changes today. Quitting can be difficult. You may attempt to quit many times before you can successfully stop smoking permanently. Many smokers may use many methods to quit smoking; quitting may require a combination of the different methods. However, we know you can do it, and we are here to help you give up smoking for good.

Some of the ways that people quit smoking include:

  • Cold turkey
  • Using nicotine-replacement therapy, such as gum or a patch
  • Taking medications, such as Chantix
  • Joining a support group or stress management program
  • Calling a quitline or joining an online support group
  • Combination therapy—taking both anti-depressant medication and nicotine replacement therapy

Quit-smoking products can lessen your urge to smoke. Most replace nicotine for a while, and all help ease you off your addiction, increasing your chances for quitting smoking for good.

These products are not for everyone. Never smoke and use a nicotine substitute at the same time, because you could overdose on nicotine.

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Health benefits of quitting smoking
It doesn't matter how long you have used tobacco; once you quit, you start to reap the health benefits immediately
Twenty minutes after your last cigarette
  • Your blood pressure returns to normal
  • Your pulse rate returns to normal
  • The body temperature of your hands and feet increases to normal
Eight hours after your last cigarette
  • The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal
  • The oxygen level in your blood drops to normal
Twenty-four to 48 hours after your last cigarette
  • Your chance of heart attack decreases
  • Your ability to smell and taste is enhanced
  • Walking becomes easier
One to nine months after your last cigarette
  • Your lung function improves
  • Coughing, fatigue and shortness of breath decrease
One year after quitting
  • Your risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker
Between five and 15 years after quitting
  • Your risk of having a stroke returns to that of a non-smoker
10 years after quitting
  • Your risk of lung cancer drops
  • Your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decreases
  • Even after a decade of not smoking, however, your risk of lung cancer remains higher than in people who have never smoked
  • Your risk of ulcer decreases
15 years after quitting
  • Your risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack is similar to that of people who have never smoked
  • The risk of death returns to nearly the level of a non-smoker

You may find it helpful to interact with other people who are trying to quit smoking

Phone counseling is available from a quit line. Or ask your hospital, public health department or healthcare provider to connect you with local resources to help you quit.

Contact the National Cancer Institute at 877.448.7848 or at www.smokefree.gov.

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