You And Your Heart

Friday, January 04, 2008

Stop smoking. Breathe easy.

It takes practice and time to quit smoking, but it can be done, and the benefits of stopping smoking are worth the effort. There are many ways to quit smoking ""- using either the "cold turkey" method or a system to gradually taper off smoking. Each person is unique, and different strategies work better for different people.

Smoking cessation medications Smoking cessation medications include nicotine chewing pieces (gum), the nicotine patch, and bupropion. Research shows that when used as directed, and combined with either support groups or counselling, these medications can increase your chance of success. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about which medications may be appropriate for you.

Support groups and counselling Group programs usually involve meeting small groups of people who are all trying to quit smoking. Group support programs have proven one of the most successful methods for quitting smoking. Qualified health professionals lead some group programs, and these tend to be more effective. Contact your local public health department to locate any smoking cessation groups active in your community.

Individual counselling programs range from brief advice and counselling offered by a health care professional to intensive individual counselling available through specialty clinics. These clinics are not available everywhere, but are especially helpful for certain smokers. Talk to your doctor about whether individual counselling is an appropriate option for you.

Tips for quitting Quitting smoking may be hard, but it can be done! Here are some tips to help you quit: * Develop an action plan to improve your chances of quitting. Writing the plan down will help you think more carefully about what you need to do and how you will approach it. Try the following: o Make a list of the important benefits of quitting and read it over before and after you quit.

o List the situations in which you smoke and the reasons why you smoke ""- this will help you identify what "triggers" you to light up.

o List fun and healthy activities to replace smoking, and be ready to do these when you feel the urge to smoke.

* Avoid smoking triggers. Starting with your quit day, try to remove or avoid your smoking triggers. For example, if you associate coffee with smoking, try drinking tea or water instead. If you usually smoke at parties, find other ways to socialize with friends until you feel comfortable and confident about facing these situations.

* Don't carry matches, a lighter, or cigarettes.

* Each day, delay lighting your first cigarette by one hour. After the first cigarette, when you have your next craving to smoke, delay for another 15 minutes or half an hour. By delaying each cigarette, you take control.

* Get moving! Exercise is a great way to relax and feel good, instead of smoking. As you exercise, with each deep breath you take, you can start to repair some of the damage done to your body from smoking.

* Enlist the help of a close friend or family member, your doctor, someone you know and respect who has recently quit, or someone who wants to quit smoking with you.

Heart attack: know the symptoms The key to surviving a heart attack is getting medical help early - nearly half of all deaths due to heart attack occur within three to four hours of the beginning of symptoms.

Keep in mind that not everyone experiences the same heart attack symptoms to the same degree - some older people and women can experience less obvious symptoms. Some heart attacks come on suddenly, but the vast majority start slowly with mild pain and discomfort. Many people experiencing a heart attack are not sure they are having one and may think it's only heartburn or indigestion. This may result in not seeking medical attention promptly.

Therefore, it's critical to be familiar with and recognize heart attack symptoms, and to take them seriously. The following are heart attack warning symptoms: * pain or discomfort in the chest, shoulder, arm, back, neck, or jaw that does not go away with rest (in women, pain may be more vague) * pressure, heaviness, fullness, or squeezing in the chest * shortness of breath * nausea and/or vomiting * sweating, or cool and clammy skin * anxiety * denial If you experience these warning symptoms, the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation suggests doing the following things: * Call 911.

* Stop all activity and rest (sit or lie down).

* If you are taking nitroglycerin, take your usual dose.

* If you have chest pain and are not allergic to ASA, chew and swallow one 325 mg ASA tablet or two 81 mg tablets.

* Rest and wait for Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

Acting promptly may save your life!

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