Quit Smoking, Lengthen Life

Every year, more than five million people worldwide die from smoking-related causes, according to a recent Harvard study. Health experts say the damage smoking does is almost immediate.

Cotton-O'Neil nurse Cindy Baird says within five minutes of smoking a cigarette, the heart rate increases. Keep smoking, and she says it gets worse.

Baird says smoking increases the expansion of the air sacs where the air exchange happens and makes them less pliable, so air is not exchanged efficiently. Over time, she says, they fill with sludge and become stiff and immobile.

For you, that means, you're not able to tolerate activity and your fingers and toes feel cooler because of damage to your blood vessels.

But here's the good news.

"The body has an incredible capacity to heal itself," Baird said.

She says within 20 minutes of quitting smoking, the heart rate drops to normal and the pulse rate is normal. Within eight hours, smoker's breath disappears and carbon monoxide levels in the blood drop. Within 24 hours, your heart attack risk begins to decrease; and in three days, breathing is easier. Stick with it, and within two years, your heart attack risk drops to near normal.

The impact was recently shown in a study by Johns Hopkins University. It found that participating in quit-smoking programs can prevent about two smoking-related deaths each year for every 1000 people in the program.

Baird admits most people will have to try more than once to quit. But once you do, she says, your body will thank you.

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Advice on quitting smoking available at www.stormontvail.org

When You Quit Smoking from Cindy Baird, ARNP

Within 20 minutes:
*Blood pressure drops to normal

*Pulse rate drops to normal

*Temperature of hands and feet increase to normal

Within 8 hours:
*Smoker's breath disappears

*Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal

Within 24 hours:
*Chance of heart attack begins to decrease

Within 3 days:
*Breathing is easier

Within 2 to 3 months:
*Circulation improves

*Walking becomes easier

*Lung function increases up to 30 percent

Within 1 to 9 months:
*Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue and shortness of breath decrease

*Cilia that sweep debris from your lungs grow back and increase your ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs and reduce infection

*Energy increases

Within 1 year:
*Risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker

Within 2 years:
*Heart attack risk drops to near normal

Within 5 years:
*Lung cancer death rate for a person who smokes a pack a day decreases by almost half

*Stroke risk is reduced

*Risk of mouth, throat and esophageal cancer is half that of a smoker

Within 10 years:
*Lung cancer death rate is similar to that of people who don't smoke

*Replacement of cells that were pre-cancerous

Within 15 years:
*Risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a person who has never smoked

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