What’s The Best Valentine’s Day Present Of All?

Answer: a healthy heart.

Valentine’s Day is all about hearts, so it’s not surprising that February was picked as American Heart Month almost 50 years ago.

The Office on Smoking and Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) wants you to know that, if you smoke, “the cells that line your body’s blood vessels react to the poisons in tobacco smoke almost immediately. Your heart rate and blood pressure go up. Your blood vessels grow narrower. Chemical changes caused by smoking also make blood more likely to clot.”

Furthermore: “Plaque clogs and narrows your arteries. This can trigger chest pain, weakness, heart attack, or stroke. Plaque can rupture and cause clots that block arteries. Completely blocked arteries can cause sudden death. Smoking is not the only cause of these problems, but it makes them much worse.”

Worse like this:

The 2010 Surgeon General’s Report, “How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease,” documents the crucial importance to heart health of being smoke-free.

Okay, don’t quit for yourself. Because face it, you don’t want to. But how about quitting for someone else? As the CDC reminds us, “because secondhand smoke also affects others and can increase their risk for heart attack and death, quitting smoking can help protect your loved ones.”

And here are some CDC resources for supporting a stop-smoking program:

For support to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669; TTY 1-800-332-8615). This service provides free support and advice from experienced counselors, a personalized quit plan, self-help materials, the latest information about cessation medications, and more. 

Online cessation services and resources are also available online atwww.smokefree.gov. This Web site provides free, accurate, evidence-based information and professional assistance to help support the immediate and long-term needs of people trying to quit smoking.

Photo Credit: http://inventorspot.com/

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