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Patient Education & Resources
Did you know that
- Smokers have a 70% greater chance of having a heart attack than non-smokers.
- After 2 years of stopping smoking the risk of heart attack is that of a non-smoker.
- Continuing to smoke after a heart attack increases the chance of having a second attack.
- When you quit smoking you reduce your risk of another heart attack regardless of how long and how much you have smoked.
What Does Smoking Do?
- It increases the rate at which plaque builds up on artery walls.
- Each cigarette you smoke causes blood vessels to narrow for 10 to 20 minutes, which in turn makes the heart work harder and faster to push blood through constricted vessels.
- Blood pressure increases because of the narrow vessels.
- It increases heart rate.
- It makes oxygen less available to your heart and the rest of your body.
- In women, smoking interferes with the production of the hormone estrogen, a natural protection against heart disease for pre-menopausal women.
Points to Note:
- You may cough more often when you first stop smoking, because your lungs are beginning to clear.
- Nicotine withdrawal produces various side effects:
- craving for tobacco
- increased anxiety
- increased irritability and restlessness
- difficulty concentrating
- headaches, drowsiness
- gastric disturbances
Symptoms are usually intense the first to third day, then subside and return again day 10 and gradually decrease. The acute phase of withdrawal is between two and four weeks, but urges may continue for months.
Suggestions to Stop Smoking
Try one or more of the following:
- Make a decision one day at a time 'not to smoke'.
- Stop 'cold turkey' - do not entertain the idea of smoking.
- You might want to set goals, such as reducing the amount you smoke - say from one pack per day to three-quarters of a pack for one week - gradually cutting down to one cigarette a day, and then none.
- Join a stop smoking clinic or group, and learn with others how to quit.
- Do not replace cigarette smoking by eating food. When you don't smoke, food becomes tastier - watch your weight.
- Chew sugar-free gum to help kick the habit.
- Choose non-smoking environments when socializing or dining out. Breathing smoke from a cigarette that someone else is smoking is still harmful to your health.
- Discuss how to stop smoking with your health care team.
- Think of yourself as a non-smoker right from the start. Feel proud of yourself.
- Talk to someone who has already become a non-smoker. Get a pep talk when you need it.
- Keep busy. Find something to do with your hands, such as crafts or hobbies.
Ask your doctor about nicotine replacement therapies, such as Nicorette gum or nicotine patches. These treatments may last from ten weeks to six months.
Behavioral interventions are available, such as:
- rapid smoking method
- relapse prevention
- acupuncture, hypnosis
Attend stop smoking programs available in the community.