Heart Health, Part 5: Quit Smoking and Reduce Alcohol Intake
The chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your heart and blood vessels in many ways. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol causes raised blood pressure, which is one of the most important risk factors for having a heart attack or stroke. What’s more, alcohol can contribute to obesity and the long list of health problems that can go along with it. Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake is hard, but many people have succeeded, and you can too.
Here are some ideas for helping you quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake:
Set a quit date and let those close to you know about it. Tell your family and friends you’re quitting smoking and ask for their support in your efforts. Part of quitting is finding ways to cope without cigarettes. Your support network can help you deal with your emotions.
Build a quit plan. When you have a craving, it’s important to have a plan to beat that urge to smoke.
Utilize the many available free resources, including apps and chat lines to help you connect with others trying to quit. Social groups can help you make the connections that are often needed to achieve your goals. Visit BeTobaccoFree.hhs.gov and Smokefree.gov to take the first step to quitting smoking.
Use nicotine replacement therapy to help you quit. Medications can help you handle withdrawal symptoms and cravings and double your chances of quitting for good.
Set a realistic goal for reducing your alcohol intake. It’s called “harm reduction.” Your goal is to improve your health and your life by reducing the negative effects of alcohol. Writing down your goals can help remind you that you want to limit your drinking.
Find something that works for you to reduce your alcohol intake. Try some of these tips: record how many drinks you have a day (or week), learn what counts as a “standard drink” so that you can accurately measure how many you have had, use “drink spacers” (non-alcoholic beverages, like water, between drinks containing alcohol), or avoid situations in which you are used to drinking. If one of these tips doesn’t work for you, try another until you find one that helps you cut back on your alcohol consumption.
In closing, there’s a lot you can do to prevent heart disease. Studies demonstrate that social support makes forming and sustaining healthy habits easier. Work together with friends and family, as well as social groups, to encourage each other in your goals to eat healthy, be physically active, manage your weight, cope with your stress, sleep better, quit smoking, or reduce alcohol intake. Your healthy lifestyle choices may inspire those around you.
Share because you care! Share this blog with your family members and friends. Let us (Biophilia Partners) know how you’re achieving your goals of preventing heart disease.
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We would like to acknowledge the NHLBI and AHA for their content that significantly contributed to this blog. We encourage you to follow them on twitter @NIH_NHLBI and @American_Heart for heart healthy tips and resources during American Heart Month.