Updated: October 14, 2012 12:26PM
Smoking injures blood vessel walls and speeds up the process of hardening of the arteries. This applies even to filtered cigarettes.
So even though it does not cause high blood pressure, 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
• Step 1: Get ready to quit
Tell yourself: I’ve set a target date to quit. I picked next Saturday, because it’s a less stressful day than during the week. I wrote down on a piece of paper “I will quit smoking next Saturday,” and I asked my son or daughter or husband to sign it with me. I know they’ll support me. Finally, I’ve decided to reward myself with some new music or books for every week that I’m not smoking.
• Step 2: Survive Day One!
Tell yourself: I’m going to throw out all of my cigarettes, ashtrays, and matches. On the big day, next Saturday, I promised my son or daughter that I would take them to a movie and then buy us something at the mall.
• Step 3: Figure out what makes you want to smoke
Tell yourself: I know that I have to find out my smoking “triggers” — what makes me want to smoke. I think my worst times are while I’m on the phone or after dinner.
• Step 4: Find new habits
Tell yourself: I know that I tend to smoke when I get stressed, so I’ve decided to try some new deep breathing exercises instead.
• Step 5: Keep busy
Tell yourself: I’ve already started a new walking club at work, so I’m all set not to smoke on my lunch break. I can take a walk instead. I’ve also cut up some carrot sticks and bought a huge pack of gum to help keep my mouth distracted.
• Step 6: Know what to expect
Tell yourself: Unfortunately, I know that I might experience headaches, irritability, tiredness, constipation, or trouble concentrating. I know that this might be unpleasant, but I’ll keep reminding myself that these are signs that my body is recovering from smoking. The good news is that most symptoms end within 4 weeks.
• Step 7: Ask for help
Tell yourself: I’ll check with my doctor about nicotine gum or a nicotine patch. These might be options to help me.
Did you know?
Surprising as it may seem, smoking by women in this country causes almost as many deaths from heart disease as from lung cancer. If you smoke, you are two to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than a nonsmoking woman, and the risk increases with the number of cigarettes you smoke each day.
Smoking also boosts the risk of stroke. Men who smoke are also at great risk.
But if you quit smoking, in one year your risk of heart disease will drop by more than half. Quitting also reduces the risk of a second heart attack in someone who has already had one.