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Smoking Cessation

Putting Your Health First

At Baylor Scott & White Heart and Vascular Hospital, we care about your health and well-being. The number one thing you can do to keep your heart and vascular system healthy and to prevent complications is to refrain from tobacco use. 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. All forms of tobacco, including cigarettes, contain nicotine, 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; and
  • Snuff.

Avoiding second hand smoke is important as well.

Ridding Your Body of Toxins

It doesn't matter how long you have used tobacco; once you quit, you start to reap the health benefits immediately. However, all benefits are lost by smoking just one cigarette. For example:

20 minutes after your last cigarette:

  • Your blood pressure returns to normal;
  • Your pulse rate returns to normal; and
  • The body temperature of your hands and feet increases to normal.

8 hours after your last cigarette:

  • The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal; and
  • The oxygen level in your blood drops to normal.

24 to 48 hours after your last cigarette:

  • Your chance of heart attack decreases;
  • Your ability to smell and taste is enhanced; and
  • Walking becomes easier.

1 to 9 months:

  • Your lung function improves; and
  • Coughing, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease.

1 year:

  • Your risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker.

Between 5 and 15 years after quitting:

  • Your risk of having a stroke returns to that of a non-smoker.

In 10 years:

  • 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; and
  • Your risk of ulcer decreases.

In 15 years:

  • Your risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack is similar to that of people who have never smoked; and
  • The risk of death returns to nearly the level of a non-smoker.

Ways to Quit

The first step to a healthier, non-smoking you is to talk to your cardiologist about quitting smoking and make 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.

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; and
  • Combination therapy - taking both anti-depressant medication and nicotine replacement therapy.

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