Smoking is something millions of Americans do daily, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, but what many don't realize are the inherent risks that accompany the habit.
Smoking injures blood vessel walls and speeds up the process of hardening of the arteries.
This applies even to filtered and “light” cigarettes. Smoking is bad for anyone, especially those with high blood pressure.
If you smoke, quit. If you don't smoke, don't start. Once you quit, your risk of having a heart attack is reduced after the first year. So you have a lot to gain by quitting.
Top 10 reasons to quit smoking
1. I will reduce my chances of having a heart attack or stroke.
2. I will reduce my chances of getting lung cancer, emphysema, and other lung diseases.3. I will have better smelling clothes, hair, breath, home, and car.
4. I will climb stairs and walk without getting out of breath.5. I will have fewer wrinkles.
6. I will be free of my morning cough.7. I will reduce the number of coughs, colds, and earaches my child will have.
8. I will have more energy to pursue physical activities I enjoy.9. I will treat myself to new books or music with the money I save from not buying cigarettes.
10. I will have more control over my life.
Develop a plan of action to quit like the one a former smoker shares below:
Step 1: Get ready to quit
Tell yourself, “I've set a target date to quit.” I happened to pick a Saturday, because it's a less stressful day than during the week for me. Also, I decided to reward myself with some new music or books for every week that didn’t smoke.Step 2: Survive "Day One!"
I told myself, “I'm going to throw out all of my cigarettes, ashtrays, and matches.” On the big day, the Saturday I chose to quit smoking, I promised my son Glen that I would take him to a movie and then buy us both something at the mall.Step 3: Figure out what makes me want to smoke
I knew I had to find out my smoking "triggers" - what made me want to smoke. I think my worst times were while I was on the phone or after dinner.Step 4: Find new habits
I knew that I tended to smoke when I got stressed, so I decided to try some new deep-breathing exercises to help me through the rough times.Step 5: Keep busy
I already has started a new “walking club” at work, so I was all set to not smoke on my lunch break. I could take a walk instead. Ialso cut up some carrot sticks and bought a huge pack of gum to help keep my mouth distracted.Step 6: Know what to expect
I knew that I might experience headaches, irritability, tiredness, constipation, or trouble concentrating while quitting. I knew that this might be unpleasant, so I resolved to keep reminding myself that these were signs that my body was recovering from smoking. The good news is that most symptoms end within four weeks.Step 7: Ask for help
I spoke with my doctor about nicotine gum and nicotine patches in advance to find out if they were safe for me. They were - but I didn’t need them. My plan worked and I haven’t smoked in three years.