About Smoking

Smoking causes lung damage, increased heart rate and high blood pressure. It also narrows the blood vessels. In a person with diabetes, these effects are increased. The risk of heart attack, stroke and other blood vessel problems are much greater. Many smokers end up with amputations.

What changes occur when you quit smoking? The American Lung Association reports the following changes in the body after you quit: *

  • 20 minutes: Blood pressure, heart rate and the temperature of hands and feet become normal.
  • 8 hours: Oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood become normal.
  • 1 day: The risk of heart attack begins to decrease.
  • 2 days: Sense of smell and taste improve. Nerve endings start to regrow. Mucus in the airways begins to break up. It also clears out of the lungs.
  • 2 weeks-3 months: Circulation and breathing improve. It becomes easier to walk.
  • 1-9 months: You will see less coughing, sinus congestion and shortness of breath. Fatigue decreases and energy increases.
  • 1 year: Happy Birthday! Risk of heart disease is now less than half of what it was one year ago!
  • 5 years: Risk of cancer of the lung, mouth, throat and esophagus, is half that of a "pack-a-day" smoker.
  • 10 years: Risk of dying of lung cancer is now similar to nonsmokers. Pre-cancerous cells have been replaced.
  • 15 years: There is no more risk of heart disease than if you had never smoked.

Important steps to take Make up your mind to quit. Ask your doctor, family and friends for help. Several medicines are available that can make quitting easier. Also, check into local programs to help you stop smoking. This is not an easy thing to do. Keep trying, even if you relapse now and then.

How can your doctor help? Talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors. Discuss your options. There are a number of smoking cessation aides that your doctor can order (pills, patches, gum, etc.). They can also refer you to programs that are designed to help you to "kick the habit".

Where can you go for more help? American Cancer Society www.cancer.org 1.800.227.2345 American Heart Association www.americanheart.org 1.800.242.8721 (information available in Spanish or English) American Lung Association www.lungusa.org 1.800.586.4872 *http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/how-to-quit/why-quit/benefits-of-quitting/ Accessed 02/27/2014