Since 1995 - Non Profit Healthcare Advice

How to Quit Smoking and Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

Smoking is one of the most important preventable cause of premature death in the US. Each year 430,700 deaths are reported due to smoking. Smoking increases the risk of:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • COPD
  • Cancer

Cigarette Smoking and Heart Attack

Cigarette Smoking is the most important risk factor for coronary artery disease that you can change. Regardless of your age, cigarette smoking increases your risk cardiovascular disease. In women who smoke and use the pill, the risk of cardiovascular disease is greatly increased. When you smoke it decreases HDL (good cholesterol) and increases LDL (bad cholesterol)

Cigar and Pipe Smoking

Cigar and pipe smoking present a risk of death from coronary artery disease and stroke, however, that risk is not as high as cigarette smokers. In part, this may be due to users being less likely to inhale smoke.

Passive or Secondhand Smoking

Passive or secondhand smoke also presents a risk of death from coronary artery disease and stroke, however, that risk is not as high as cigarette smokers. An estimated 40,000 people die due to secondhand smoke each year.

Causes of Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine is an addictive drug. When you try to quit, the withdrawal symptoms that occur are rather unpleasant. They include:

  • Irritability
  • Hostility
  • Anxiety
  • Depressed mood
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Increased appetite or weight gain

What Smoking Does to the Body

The carbon monoxide in smoke decreases the amount of oxygen in the blood and increases fatty acids and sugar in the blood. Another substance in cigarettes is nicotine. Nicotine causes:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Arteries to narrow

Nicotine increases the risk of heart attack by:

  • Encouraging fatty buildup in arteries
  • Producing carbon monoxide, which¬†may damage inner walls of arteries
  • Causing vessels to narrow and harden
  • Causing a change in blood that make clots

How You Can Quit Smoking

Step One

  • List reasons to quit and read them daily
  • Wrap your cigarette pack with paper and rubber bands
  • When you smoke, write down the time of day, how you feel and how important the cigarette is to you (scale 1-5)
  • Rewrap the pack

Step Two

  • Keep reading your list reasons to quit and add to them
  • Don’t carry matches and keep cigarettes out of reach
  • Each day try to smoke fewer cigarettes (the ones that aren’t most important based on your rating scale)

Step Three

  • Continue step two
  • Don’t buy a new pack until you finish the one your smoking
  • Change brands to one lower in tar and nicotine
  • Try to stop for 48 hours at one time

Step Four

  • Quit smoking completely
  • Increase your physical activity
  • Avoid situations you relate to smoking
  • Find a healthy substitute for smoking
  • Do deep breathing exercises when you get the urge

If You Smoke after Quitting

  • This doesn’t mean you’re a smoker again ? do something right away to get back on track
  • Don’t punish yourself
  • Think about why you stopped smoking
  • Decide what you will do the next time it comes up
  • Sign a contract to be a nonsmoker

Life After Quitting

  • Sense of smell comes back
  • Smokers cough goes away
  • Will digest food easier
  • Breathe much easier
  • Easier to climb stairs
  • Live longer and have less chance of heart disease, lung disease and cancer

Handling the Stress of Not Smoking

  • Try deep breathing
  • Set aside 20 minutes for relaxation each day
  • Think positive!
  • Listen to relaxation tapes
  • Exercise

Nicotine Substitutes

  • Nicotine gum and patches
  • Wellbutrin
  • Hypnosis

For more information:

Go to the Smoking and Tobacco health topic.