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Reversing the Harmful
Effects of Smoking

If you quit, your body will benefit almost immediately.

According to the American Lung Association, nearly 500,000 people die every year from tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.

This makes it the leading cause of preventable death in this country. On top of that, smoking and the use of tobacco products, including cigars and smokeless tobacco, cause or worsen numerous diseases and conditions.

Why? There are more than 7,000 chemicals in a single cigarette, including arsenic, lead and tar. The good news is that if you quit, your body will benefit almost immediately.

Smoking
Lighter

Short-Term Benefits of Quitting

20 minutes

Your heart rate and blood pressure decrease 20 minutes after you quit smoking.

12 hours

Twelve hours after quitting, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.

02 weeks

After just two weeks, your circulation improves and lung function increases.

2+ months

Within a few months, your coughing and shortness of breath will begin to decrease.
Healthy Lungs Smoker’s Lungs

Healthy Lungs vs. Smoker’s Lungs

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Long-Term Benefits of Quitting

12 months

Twelve months after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is half that of someone who still smokes. Your heart attack risk also drops dramatically.

05 years

Five years after quitting, your risk for other cancers decreases by 50 percent, including mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder.

10 years

After 10 years of smoke-free living, you cut your risk of dying from lung cancer in half.

15 years

Fifteen years after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.
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Quit Smoking Today

Smoking can harm almost every organ in your body and contributes to a wide range of life-threatening diseases. If you’d like to quit but don’t know where to start, a primary care doctor has the resources available
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Lung Cancer Risk Factors

Secondhand Smoke
Secondhand Smoke
Family History
Family History
Air Pollution
Air Pollution, Radon Gas,
Asbestos

Lung Cancer Symptoms

Secondhand Smoke
Secondhand Smoke
Coughing Up Blood
Coughing Up Blood
Wheezing
Wheezing
Fatigue
Fatigue
Chest Pain
Chest Pain
Weight Loss
Weight Loss

Exams, Tests & Treatments

Chest X-Ray
Chest X-Ray
CT Scan
CT Scan
Sputum Cytology
Sputum Cytology
Thoracic Surgery
Thoracic Surgery
Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy
Radiotherapy
Radiotherapy
Smoking-02
heart

How Smoking Affects Your Heart

Researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there are several reasons smoking can be associated with a heart attack. Cigarette smoking can do things like:

  • Raise a type of fat in your blood called triglycerides
  • Lower your “good” cholesterol (HDL)
  • Damage cells that line your blood vessels
  • Increase the buildup of plaque in your blood vessels
  • Cause thickening and narrowing of blood vessels
  • Create blood clots

If smoking does increase plaque buildup in your arteries and cause atherosclerosis it may lead to peripheral arterial disease, which can cause severe pain in your legs and affect your mobility.

Smoking is a major cause of coronary heart disease (also known as coronary artery disease), which can lead to a heart attack.

Your Heart Benefits From Quitting Smoking

According to statistics from the American Heart Association, cigarette smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States.

Researchers say the heart-healthy benefits of quitting include:

  • Your heart experiences less stress almost immediately.
  • Your heart rate lowers after about 20 minutes.
  • The amount of carbon monoxide in your blood returns to normal after 12 hours.
  • Heart attack risk decreases after a few months because lungs are healthier.
  • One year after you stop smoking, you have 50% less susceptibility to heart disease.
  • After five to 15 years, stroke and heart disease risks return to those of a lifelong non-smoker.

Use this information to your advantage. Concentrating on the benefits of quitting might just be the motivation you need.

How to Quit Smoking

If you’re going to quit smoking, it helps to have guidance. These are tips to help get you started down the road to a smoke-free life and keep you there. It should include things like:

  • Make the decision to quit.
  • Know your reasons for quitting.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Manage your withdrawal symptoms.
  • Build a support group.

The CDC has a lot of information on these recommendations and many others.

Medications

According to the American Cancer Society, research shows that using a medication to help you quit smoking can increase your chances of being successful.

There are seven medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that help people quit smoking safely and effectively. Talk to your doctor about which one is best for you.

Over-the-counter medications that can help ease the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include:

  • Nicotine gum
  • Nicotine patches
  • Nicotine lozenges

There are four other medications that are available by prescription:

  • Nicotine inhalers
  • Nicotine nasal sprays
  • Zyban (bupropion) – an antidepressant
  • Chantix (varenicline) – a drug that blocks the effects of nicotine in the brain

Talk to your doctor about the most effective way to take these medications. Use them as directed.

Counseling

Combining counseling with medication makes it even more likely that you will quit smoking and stay away from tobacco for good. Counseling comes in many forms.

  • In-person counseling is available from a doctor, nurse practitioner,  pharmacist, or other healthcare providers.
  • Support groups help many smokers quit. Also, tell your family and friends about your plans to quit, so they can help, too.
  • Telephone quitlines link callers with trained counselors.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists “Five Reasons Why Calling a Quitline Can Be The Key To Your Success.”

Apps

The National Cancer Institute has an app to help you quit smoking. It allows users to do things like:

  • Set quit dates
  • Track financial goals
  • Schedule reminders

It also offers a text messaging service that provides round-the-clock encouragement and advice to people trying to quit.

Cold Turkey

Going cold turkey means that you stop smoking all at once. Gradually smoking fewer cigarettes each day may make it easier to quit. But keep in mind that only 4 to 7 percent of smokers who try to quit cold turkey are successful in staying smoke-free.

One of the most important things researchers have learned about quitting smoking is that the smoker needs to keep trying. It may take several serious attempts before a smoker can quit forever, so don’t be discouraged by relapse.

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Quit Smoking Today

Smoking can harm almost every organ in your body and contributes to a wide range of life-threatening diseases. If you’d like to quit but don’t know where to start, a primary care doctor has the resources available to help you quit for good. Primary care doctors take the time to know your medical history so they can provide the right solutions for you. Together, you and your primary care doctor can develop a plan to quit smoking. To make an appointment, find a doctor near you.
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