Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your cholesterol, your heart and your health. Within days, your health will begin to improve and within a year your risk of heart disease will be halved.
Quitting smoking has never been easy, but you are not alone. There is lots of help available for free and you’re up to four times more likely to quit if you have support.
Why is smoking harmful?
The smoke from cigarettes contains thousands of chemicals. Some of these can damage your blood vessels and your heart. Smoking doubles your risk of heart attacks and strokes, and recent research shows that smoking just one cigarette a day raises your risk.
Does smoking cause high cholesterol?
- Smoking makes your LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) ‘stickier’ – so it clings to your artery walls and clogs them up.
- Smoking lowers your levels of HDL cholesterol (the good kind), which normally takes cholesterol away from the artery walls.
- Smoking damages the walls of your arteries, and cholesterol collects in the damaged areas.
These changes mean your arteries can get clogged up faster. Smoking also raises your heart rate, makes your blood vessels contract, and makes your blood thicker and less able to carry oxygen. The blood can’t flow around your body easily, your heart has to work harder and blood clots can form, leading to heart attacks and strokes.
How will quitting help?
As soon as you stop smoking, your risk of heart disease and many other health problems starts to fall. You will feel much fitter and healthier, your skin will improve, your stress levels will fall, your breathing will open up and walking and exercising will get easier.
- Within hours, your heart rate will return to normal and the chemicals will start to leave your blood.
- Within days, your breathing will open up and your sense of taste and smell will improve.
- Within weeks, your blood will become less sticky and the risk of heart attacks will start to fall.
- Within months, the blood flow around your body will improve, you’ll feel more energetic and exercise will be easier.
- Within a year, coughing and wheezing will improve as your lungs can take in more air.
- After one year, your risk of heart disease and heart attacks will be halved. After 15 years, it will be similar to someone who has never smoked.
Get help to quit
Most people try to quit by going cold turkey, but it’s the least affective way. You’re more likely to kick the habit if you have some help, and there is lots of support available for free.
Stop smoking aids
It’s the nicotine in cigarettes that makes them addictive, but the smoke that causes harm. There are quitting aids available which replace the nicotine to ease the cravings, without the smoke. Choose from:
- medicines you can start taking before you quit
- skin patches to deliver nicotine discreetly
- e-cigarettes which give you something to do with your hands
- gums, lozenges and nazal sprays that give you a surge of nicotine when you get cravings.
Other types of support
There are local Stop Smoking Services which can support you in other ways too. Opt for:
- face to face meetings
- chat online or on the phone
- receive tips and advice by email or text
- or go for a smartphone app.