Smoking is the single most preventable risk factor of premature death in the United States. Whether you’re trying to quit smoking or teach good habits to the children in your family, here are some facts worth sharing.
Smoking increases your risk of heart disease
Although most people know about the connection between smoking and lung disease, many underestimate the damage that cigarettes have on your body, especially the heart and cardiovascular system. In fact, more smokers die from heart disease or stroke than from lung cancer.
Smoking greatly increases your risk of coronary heart disease. The carbon monoxide you inhale finds its way quickly into your blood stream and eats away the lining of your arteries. This makes it easier for cholesterol, fats and plaque to stick to artery walls and accumulate slowly. Over time, all this cholesterol and fatty build-up can clog the artery and cut off the oxygen to your heart or brain.
Nicotine is a stimulant, which causes your heart rate to increase. Additionally, smoking makes your blood pressure rise, meaning your heart has to work harder to pump blood.
Smokers love their friends and family. And although they don’t mean to cause their loved ones harm, secondhand smoke can increase their risk of heart disease by up to 30 percent. Kids who inhale secondhand smoke also are more likely to suffer from asthma and other respiratory problems.
Kids pick up behaviors and habits from you
Kids who grow up seeing their parents smoke are more likely to accept it as normal — and smoke themselves. Habits are hard to break, so instead of introducing unhealthy habits like smoking, mirror healthy habits you’d like your children to follow.
Better Late Then Never
Smokers: It’s never too late to make a positive change. Your body has an amazing capacity to heal. Your health starts to improve as soon as you stop smoking, and with a serious commitment, you can add (healthy!) years to your life. Don’t forget: Getting your life back on a healthy track is good for everyone around you.
Visit heart.org for more information about smoking and tips on kicking the habit.