One of the lifestyles changes that you can make, if it applies to you, is to quit smoking. And of course, never start up if you don’t yet. Some people who have smoked for years find the thought of stopping scary, but many people succeed and with the myriad of options you have at your disposal now, there’s no reason not to try.
How Does Smoking Affect Blood Pressure Readings?
Smoking has a two-pronged effect on your blood pressure readings. It actually isn’t the specific direct cause of elevated blood pressure, except temporarily. But it does contribute to the downfall of your blood vessels and heart health, which in turn cause blood pressure to rise.
When you smoke, the arteries harden quicker – and your blood pressure temporarily increases by approximately 10 mm Hg. This lasts for about 60 minutes after each cigarette.
That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? But consider the fact that most smokers whip out a cigarette several times throughout the day and then you see how the person is suffering from a consistent spike in blood pressure.
Choose a Method to Quit Smoking
Quitting is hard. But not impossible – and once you succeed, you’ll be so glad you did it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve tried for years to quit, either. Keep it up and one day you’ll be able to give it up for good.
Perhaps the most daunting method of smoking cessation is what’s called “going cold turkey.” That means you just stop – without using smoking cessation aids. That’s hard, but many people succeed this way.
In fact, of those who succeeded, three studies show that “cold turkey” was the method used by 76-88% of the people who gave up cigarettes forever. That’s a good percentage rate.
Some use a gradual elimination of cigarettes, slowly going from 2 packs a day to 1 pack, to 3 cigarettes per day, and finally none.
There are also nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) that you can try to help you give up the habit. These include medications that wean you off of nicotine gradually. NRT comes in several different variations.
You may want to try whatever you feel would best suit you and if that doesn’t work, try another. Don’t give up after just one, though. Some people like to start with the transdermal patch that delivers nicotine through your skin.
It gradually eliminates the amount of nicotine from your system, cutting down on cravings. But this doesn’t do much for the “hand to mouth” habit you develop when smoking for years.
Some smokers like to use nicotine gum because it keeps their mouth busy. The same goes for lozenges. But there are also inhalers and sprays you can try to help you get off of your addiction little by little.
A relapse is common for people trying to quit smoking – especially if they’re using NRTs. About 93% cave in eventually, so repeated efforts are vital to your success.
There are other options to over the counter NRTs. You can get a prescription for certain antidepressants that will help you get rid of cravings for nicotine as a pleasant side effect. Ask your doctor for more information if you need help.
Electronic cigarettes are another option you may want to try. This is a battery-operated item that has a nicotine cartridge in it (refillable with flavor choices). You don’t get all of the by-products that smoking real cigarettes have, like actual smoke and tar – but you’re still being given the nicotine in smaller and smaller doses.
Some organizations don’t believe in the electronic cigarette as a smoking cessation device. But it can easily be whatever you want it to be if you pursue smaller doses and wean yourself off of cigarettes completely.
Sometimes small changes, like chewing on a toothpick flavored with cinnamon, or a candy cane, can be all you need to replace cigarettes with something else that keeps your mouth busy.
If you want to adopt one of those methods, you might try pairing it with an alternative health option to help you have a higher success rate. There are some techniques that aren’t exactly mainstream, but which have helped many stop smoking for good.
Hypnosis, acupuncture and meditation all assist you with the cravings you’ll feel when you try to stop smoking. They can help you develop new habits and ignore smoking triggers like bad traffic or having a cigarette after a meal, for example.
When it comes to hypnosis, don’t worry that someone is going to put you to sleep and alter your thought process – that’s not what happens. You’re awake, just relaxed enough to tap into and alter your smoking triggers.
With acupuncture, some people hesitate because it involves needles. But these needles are so tiny that they aren’t painful – they just stimulate your body to help alleviate cravings.
Meditation is a wonderful stress reliever, and paired with NRTs, can help soothe an anxious smoker craving a cigarette. Previously, you used a cigarette to ease stress – and meditation just replaces the cigarette for you.
There are other avenues you can explore, such as deep breathing, herbal remedies, and aromatherapy. The key is to exhaust all options before calling it quits – and then try again. Use a combination of methods to see the best success.
Prevent a Relapse in Your Smoking Cessation Efforts
Smokers who first try to stop smoking often fail at first. That’s partially because the real desire to quit just isn’t there. You may enjoy smoking, and find it hard to give up that pleasure.
But when it begins to affect your health, you start taking smoking cessation a bit more seriously – and then your success rate improves.
Research shows that combining your efforts into one part mental and one part physical therapies works best. Medications often can’t do it alone, and neither can a psychological approach.
Not everything is 100% within your control. Nicotine is a real addiction. Even your skin color has a lot to do with whether or not you succeed because the darker your pigmentation, the more nicotine is drawn to becoming absorbed in your tissues.
Some of your success will depend on how your social life works. Are you around smokers in your home? Do you frequent bars that allow smoking? If everyone you know smokes, it’s a good indication that you’ll find it harder to stay strong and avoid smoking.
Start making changes in your life and see how they affect your craving and addiction to smoking. The benefits to stopping will take effect within minutes, so your body will reward you instantly with better health, and continue showing you gratitude for a long time after.
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Yes, there’s a lot to learn about living with high blood pressure. Getting in control might take some time. It’s going to mean making some changes in your life, but you can start with small changes, and you don’t have to make them all at once. Try to stay positive and work with your doctor to find the right combination of treatments. And you don’t have to do it alone.
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