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Quit Smoking to Help Your Heart, Your Health, Your Wallet
Did you know that if you currently smoke, you are nearly three times more likely to have a heart attack compared to people who have never smoked?
That’s because smoking or being exposed to cigarette smoke thickens and stiffens your arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body. The hardening of your arteries, called arteriosclerosis, raises your cholesterol levels and blood pressure and increases your chance for a heart attack or stroke.
If you are a smoker, quitting is considered to be the single best thing you can do to improve your health. After just one year of being tobacco-free, your risk for a heart attack will be cut in half. And with Minnesota’s current $2.83 tax on a pack of cigarettes, many people’s wallets will likely be in healthier shape after quitting, too.
But how do you start? There are actually many different methods people use to quit smoking, but those who are successful share some common patterns of action.
Figure out your triggers — Triggers are the events that are associated with smoking (e.g., in your car, after a meal, work breaks).
Set a quit date — Commit to a date of no more smoking — not even one. Be firm, but smart about it.
Use a quit aid — A quit aid is a product that eases the physical symptoms of withdrawal from nicotine (often called nicotine replacement therapy or NRT). Withdrawal symptoms are annoying, but not life threatening. Withdrawal symptoms are the most common reason why people return to smoking after trying to quit.
Using NRT doubles the chances of a successful quit attempt. NRT products include a gum, patch, lozenge, nasal spray and pills. Some require a prescription.