Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and has negative health impacts on people during all stages of life. Smoking harms unborn babies, infants, children, adolescents, adults and seniors and has been associated with sudden cardiac death of all types in both men and women. Statistics show that one out of every six deaths in this country is related to smoking. Coronary artery disease and stroke – the primary types of cardiovascular disease caused by smoking – are the first and third leading causes of death in the United States.
Smoking-related coronary heart disease contributes to congestive heart failure. An estimated 4.6 million Americans have congestive heart failure and 43,000 die from it every year. Toxins found in the blood from smoking cigarettes contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, a progressive hardening of the arteries caused by the deposit of fatty plaques and the scarring and thickening of the artery wall. Inflammation of the artery wall and the development of blood clots can obstruct blood flow and cause heart attacks or strokes. In 2003, an estimated 1.1 million Americans had a new or recurrent coronary attack.
Cigarette smoking is also a major cause of strokes. The incidence of stroke in the United States is estimated at 600,000 cases per year, and the one-year fatality rate is about 30 percent.
Most people who smoke are well aware of the risk of heart and lung disease they subject themselves to by continuing this practice. Many smokers have actually tried to quit, sometimes several times in the past. However, overcoming the addiction to nicotine is difficult. Withdrawal symptoms can include difficulty sleeping, irritability, frustration, anger, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and restlessness.
The good news is that even for long-term smokers, quitting smoking carries major and immediate health benefits. When smokers quit, their bodies start to repair immediately. For example, former smokers have the same stroke risk as nonsmokers five to 15 years after quitting. Other remarkable changes that happen within just days of quitting include:
- After one day, the odds of having a heart attack begin to drop
- After two weeks, lung function increases by up to 30 percent
- After one year, excess risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half
- After fifteen years, the risk of a heart attack is the same as someone who never smoked
Despite the large barriers to quitting cigarette smoking, help is available. Your doctor can provide help by using several different options such as acupuncture, pharmacotherapy, etc. which all help break the nicotine addiction which makes the process so difficult. Our staff will also work with you to implement techniques to modify your behavior. These techniques will train you to avoid situations that encourage continued cigarette smoking and make it very difficult to stay quit. Finally, you will be given hot line numbers to call that provide support to you while you go through the quitting process.
We help our patients to prepare psychologically, mentally and physically to quit. In addition to counseling, patients develop new skill sets and/or interests such as yoga, exercise, sewing, crafts, etc. Exercise programs are very effective because as one gets more involved with exercise the improvement in one’s sense of well being becomes re-enforcing. It can also help reduce the weight gain that happens frequently with quitting.
Learn to deal with the cravings that will inevitably occur during the quitting process. Avoiding alcohol during these periods of time can be helpful. Have oral substitutes available such as sugarless gum, carrots, or sunflower seeds for when the cravings occur.
Manatee Cardiovascular Wellness Institute facilitates and tracks individual smoking cessation programs to help smokers to stop smoking. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 941-744-1200 or contact us here.