Are You Breaking a Loved One’s Heart?

by | Blog, Heart

I learned yesterday that the artery on the right side of my father’s heart is totally blocked. His heart has adjusted by receiving blood from the left side, but his heart muscle has been made so weak that it puts him at high risk for sudden death.

My father is a heavy smoker. Most people think about the lungs being at risk when they think about cigarette smoking, but smoking cigarettes has more far-reaching effects than your respiratory system.

According to the Surgeon General, smoking is a principal, preventable cause of premature death in the developed world. It is a major cause of coronary artery disease (CAD), a condition where the blood vessels supplying the heart muscles become narrowed leading to chest pains (angina) or heart attacks.

Men who smoke have a 60%-70% greater death rate than those who don’t. Sudden death may be the first manifestation of CAD in young male smokers. Women smokers have a 10 times increased risk of developing CAD than non-smokers.

Quitting produces immediate and long-term benefits. There is a substantial decrease in the risk of a heart attack within 1 year of stopping smoking. Those who quit smoking prior to the age of 50 have half the risk of dying in the next 15 years compared to continuing smokers.

Here are 10 helpful tips from on how to quit:

  1. Quit cold turkey. In the long run it’s the easiest and most effective technique of smoking cessation.
  2. Do not carry cigarettes.
  3. Quit smoking one day at a time. Do not concern yourself with next year, next month, next week or even tomorrow. Concentrate on not smoking from the time you wake up until you go to sleep.
  4. Work on developing the attitude that you are doing yourself a favor by not smoking. Do not dwell on the idea that you are depriving yourself of a cigarette. You are ridding yourself of full-fledged smoking because you care enough about yourself to want to.
  5. Be proud that you are not smoking.
  6. Be aware that many routine situations will trigger the urge for a cigarette. Situations which will trigger a response include: drinking coffee, alcohol, sitting in a bar, social events with smoking friends, card games, the end of meals. Try to maintain your normal routine while quitting. If any event seems too tough, leave it and go back to it later. Do not feel you must give up any activity forever. Everything you did as a smoker, you will learn to do at least as well, and maybe better, as an ex-smoker.
  7. Make a list of all the reasons you want to quit smoking. Keep this list with you, preferably where you used to carry your cigarettes. When you find yourself reaching for a cigarette, take out your list and read it.
  8. Drink plenty of fruit juice the first three days. It will help flush nicotine out of your system.
  9. To help avoid weight gain, eat vegetables and fruit instead of candies and pastries. Celery and carrots can be used safely as short-term substitutes for cigarettes.
  10. If you are concerned about weight gain, do some moderate form of regular exercise. If you have not been exercising regularly, consult your physician for a practical exercise program which is safe for you.

I am the only person in my immediate family that does not smoke. It is literally HEART-BREAKING for me to watch my family members slowly kill themselves. If you or someone you care about smokes cigarettes, please share this article with them.

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