Smoking causes heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Smokers have 2 to 4 times more risk of a heart attack than nonsmokers. Secondhand smoke also increases the risk of developing heart disease. Smoking causes reduced circulation by narrowing and spasm of the arteries of the body, including the arteries of the heart, brain, and kidneys. Smoking is a heart risk factor that is modifiable, meaning that if a person quits smoking and stays quit, their risk of heart disease eventually becomes the same as that of a nonsmoker.
How do I quit and stay quit? Most successful ex-smokers quit by maintaining their focus and choosing the strategy best suited to their needs. Many choose to quit “cold-turkey”. They deal with the withdrawal symptoms and never start up again. Other people wish to soften the withdrawal by using nicotine patches, inhalers, or gums. Occasionally these nicotine replacement products can also be addictive! Prescription medications are available to assist with the irritability associated with withdrawal and to help stop the craving for cigarettes.
Behavioral strategies such as avoiding people and places where you are tempted to smoke, altering your habits to avoid smoking, or keeping your mouth and hands active with other things, like chomping on suckers or carrot sticks. Deep breathing fresh air instead of cigarette smoke may also be a refreshing change of habit.
If you would like more information about smoking cessation or would like to discuss a quit smoking strategy, please contact your local medical provider or the South Dakota Quitline at 1-866-SD-QUITS or www.sdquitline.com.