Each year, nearly a half-million people die from smoking-related causes and roughly 35 percent of those deaths are due to smoking-related cardiovascular problems. I know, because I treat people in Toledo with these problems.
My patients range in age from their teens well into their 90’s. With more than 4,000 toxic compounds in cigarette smoke, including nicotine and carbon monoxide, smokers often suffer from peripheral artery disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, aneurysms, various forms of cancer and more.
The more people smoke, the worse it gets. But the minute people quit, they’re on a fast track to far better health.
Quitting smoking would give an individual’s family a gift that would let them know that he or she wants to be a part of their lives longer. A 2003 study showed two to seven years after quitting smoking, heart disease patients decreased their actual risk of heart attacks by as much as 95 percent and saw vast improvements in their overall health.
Quitting means those around a smoker become healthier too because they no longer have to breathe unfiltered, secondhand smoke.
Your family physician can help, and depending on your employer, you might also find help through an on-site smoking cessation program. More and more companies are providing this benefit or have insurance plans that do so.
Good smoking cessation programs provide assistance with behavioral counseling, medications, nicotine replacement, and/or non-medicinal therapies as well. Statewide organizations can also help including the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, Ohio Department of Health and others.
Over time, I’ve heard people give a lot of excuses for not quitting: They are too old, too cool, or simply don’t believe it will make a difference. The truth is that for an individual’s short and long term health, ceasing from smoking makes a very big difference.
Smokers who stop experience less pain, fewer health problems and live a better quality of life. Medical statistics prove this. This year, make a resolution to not just quit smoking, but to become a healthier, happier you.
John Fish III, MD, FSVM, is board-certified in vascular and internal medicine.