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Quit Smoking for a Healthier Heart

Every time you smoke a cigarette, your body reacts to the effects of nicotine and the 10 other poisons you inhale. Because of the impact smoking has on your heart, quitting can cause immediate and long-term benefits for one of your body’s most important organs.

As nicotine is released into the body, your body processes the chemical as a mood leveler -- the reason why cigarettes are extremely addictive. When you inhale, the composition of smoke immediately enters your bloodstream and is delivered to your entire body. Every blood vessel in your body constricts, and your blood pressure instantly rises. Your risk of heart attack and stroke are immediately higher for about three hours.

If you want to help your heart -- and your whole body -- ending your addiction to tobacco is the first step. Numerous methods exist for quitting, including nicotine replacements such as gum or patches, hypnosis, and avoidance therapy -- a method that involves substituting other activities for smoking. For example, instead of smoking at a certain time of day, take a walk instead.

“Within a day of quitting, your blood pressure begins to drop, and a year later, your risk of heart attack is significantly lower,” says Dwight Blair, manager of Cardiopulmonary Services at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Azle. “Many people can achieve normal health again within five years of quitting, and quitting now can protect healthy tissue from being affected.”

For more information about smoking cessation programs at Texas Health, call 1-877-THR-WELL (1-877-847-9355).

Fall/Winter 2011

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