If you’ve never touched a cigarette or have quit smoking, congratulations! You are steps ahead of being healthier for longer in comparison to smokers. If you’ve experienced a heart attack and were a smoker previously, research suggests quitting can improve your mental health – aside from improving your heart and health overall, of course!
Published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, researchers found those who quit smoking after a heart attack can boost their mental health as much as a non-smoker.
The study assessed 4003 patients for smoking and quality of life at one, six and 12 months post-acute myocardial infarction (heart attack). Blood flow to the heart and quality of life were measured by Seattle Angina Questionnaire and Short Form-12 Physical and Mental Component Scales.
At the beginning of the study 29 percent never smoked, 34 percent were former smokers (quit before the heart attack) and 37 percent were active smokers – of all the smokers 46 percent quit by the end of one year.
After adjusting for sociodemographic, clinical and treatment factors, those who never smoked and those who quit smoking had similar qualities of life in all domains. Recent quitters had similar scores on the Seattle Angina Questionnaire and Short Form-12 Physical and Mental Component Scales to those who never smoked.
The researchers hope the findings will prompt individuals to quit smoking as a means of boosting their mental health and quality of life.
How to quit smoking
Whether you had a heart attack or not, if you’re a smoker it is highly suggested that you quit. Long-term effects of smoking are:
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
- Increased risk of stroke
- Increased risk of lung diseases
- Effects ability to get pregnant
- Effects men’s sperm
- Increased risk of cataracts
- Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
- Leads to inflammation and reduced immune function
With all these side effects associated with smoking, it’s ideal to quit. Even if you’ve tried before and failed, you can still try again. Here are tips to quit smoking and start improving your physical and mental health.
- Make a plan – set a quitting date and plan out the steps you wish to take to quit smoking
- Identify triggers which make you smoke – boredom, stress, etc.
- Once triggers are identified, eliminate them – reduce stress, occupy your time, etc.
- Cope with nicotine withdrawal symptoms
- Manage cravings – distract yourself, remove yourself from tempting situations
- Start reducing the amount of cigarettes you smoke
- Cut cigarettes in half so they’re smaller
- Consider nicotine-replacement therapy
- Consider non-nicotine medication
Cope with withdrawal symptoms
Smoking is an addiction and because it changes your body in so many ways withdrawal symptoms are to be expected. Here are some ways you can better cope with withdrawal symptoms.
- If you have a craving distract yourself or wait out the craving
- If you become irritable begin exercising or take a warm bath
- If you have trouble sleeping avoid caffeine, exercise, meditate, take naps
- Fatigue can be combated by taking naps
- Lack of focus or poor memory can be combated by reducing your workload and reducing stress
- Hunger can be combated by drinking more water and opting for nutritious snacks
- Coughing or nasal drips can be combated by drinking plenty of fluids or using cough drops
- Indigestion can be resolved with fluid and more fiber in your diet
Quitting smoking can be difficult, especially if you’ve been smoking for a long time. Don’t hesitate to ask for support or assistance from loved ones or even your doctor. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still achieve benefits from quitting smoking.