The fourth in the series of seven steps to heart health as outlined by The American Heart Association in their “Life’s Simple 7 – Seven simple steps to live better.” campaign is “Stop Smoking”, which we’ve made into the positive “Breathe Freely and Deeply”!
The AHA explains that smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States. “Smokers have a higher risk of developing many chronic disorders, including atherosclerosis — the buildup of fatty substances in the arteries — which can lead to coronary heart disease, heart attack (myocardial infarction) and stroke.”
Smoking by itself increases the risk of coronary heart disease, no matter how healthy your other habits may be. When combined with other factors, it greatly increases your risk from those factors, too.
- Smoking decreases your ability to be active and increases the tendency for blood to clot.
- It decreases HDL cholesterol (good).
- Your risks increase greatly if you smoke and have a family history of heart disease.
- Smoking also creates a higher risk for peripheral artery disease and aortic aneurysm.
Parents should talk to kids about cigarette smoking. Once cigarette smoking is initiated, it can be difficult to stop, even during adolescence.The benefits of quit smoking include:
- Former smokers live longer than continuing smokers.
- Your chances of getting lung cancer, other cancers, heart attack, stroke, and chronic lung
- Women who stop smoking before pregnancy reduce their risk of having a low birth weight baby to that of women who never smoked.
- The health benefits of smoking cessation far exceed any risks from the average 5-pound weight gain or any adverse psychological effects that may follow quitting.