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Controllable Risk Factors – Tobacco Use & Smoking

How is smoking linked to stroke?
Smoking doubles the risk for stroke when compared to a nonsmoker. It reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood, causing the heart to work harder and allowing blood clots to form more easily. Smoking also increases the amount of build-up in the arteries, which may block the flow of blood to the brain, causing a stroke. The good news is that smoking-induced strokes and overall stroke risk can greatly reduced by quitting smoking.

Smokers often have concerns about quitting smoking. Following are tips for dealing with those concerns

“I’ll gain weight if I quit smoking.”
Weight gain varies from person to person. The average person gains less than 10 pounds. Exercise and a low-fat diet can help. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals and pasta. Low-sugar candy may also help. Try to get enough sleep. Talk to a doctor about how to quit smoking while maintaining your weight.

“What do I do when I get the urge to smoke?”
When possible, stay away from places where others might be smoking. Ask others not to smoke around you. When you do feel the urge to smoke, distract yourself and stay busy. If you can make it three minutes, the urge probably will go away. You can also ask your doctor about prescription medications or nicotine replacement therapy, including over-the-counter patches and gum.

“Smoking relaxes me. I get too nervous and anxious if I don’t smoke.”
First, try to take it easy. It is best to warn those around you that you have quit smoking. Try going for a walk if you get tense. Exercise can help you relax.

“I blew it. What do I do now?”
Smoking cigarettes again does not mean that you have failed. You have already had some success. You got through a number of minutes, days or months without smoking. Don’t let relapses serve as excuses to start smoking again. You are an ex-smoker and can continue to be one.

“I’ve tried to quit smoking before. What makes this time different?”
You can choose to be a non-smoker and be successful. It is important enough to your health to make another attempt. Set a goal for yourself. Think about why you smoke and different ways to handle those reasons without smoking. Help is out there if you ask for it. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for information about local support groups. There are over 46.5 million ex-smokers in the United States. You can be one of them.

Tips to quit smoking:

  • Set a "Quit Date." Mark calendars at home and at work.
  • Tell family, friends and co-workers about the plan to quit. Ask for their support.
  • Ask a doctor about nicotine replacement therapy or medication that can help control the urges to smoke.
  • Throw away all cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters and matches before the “Quit Date”.
  • Reward yourself for doing well. Buy something nice with the money saved on cigarettes.

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