Get Healthy Carson City: Is smoking bad for your heart? |

Get Healthy Carson City: Is smoking bad for your heart?

Carmella Downing
Carson Tahoe Health
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This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Tuesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

If you watch the news, you know the answer to this one! But what you may not know is what smoking does to your heart: It causes a waxy buildup in your arteries, known as atherosclerosis. Smoking causes one in five deaths in the U.S. and is preventable.

What can you do about this? If you smoke, quit! But it’s not always that easy. Nicotine is a naturally occurring substance in tobacco and is highly addictive. There are many methods people have used to help them quit; from “cold turkey” to using many of the aids on the market today.

Why are we discussing this now? February is American Heart Month when awareness of cardiovascular disease is promoted. Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women; more than all cancers combined! Your heart is an important organ as it is required for survival. Unfortunately, we often mistreat our hearts. The good news is, there are ways to protect your heart and decrease your odds of developing heart disease. The American Heart Association lists seven simple ways to take care of your heart:

Move! Be active. This can be as easy as going for a walk or playing with your kids.

Cholesterol — know your numbers. Ask your health care provider what you need to do to give your arteries a chance at beating blockages.

Eat better: Are you skipping your veggies? Too many “bad fats?” Quick and easy foods can be good for you. Attend a cooking class or pick up a cookbook at the used book store.

Blood pressure: Get it under control! See your health care provider.

Lose weight: We have an obesity epidemic in the United States and it is only making heart disease worse. Follow numbers 1 and 3 above to help achieve a healthy weight.

Sugar: Limiting your sugar intake is important for a healthy heart. Sometimes your body may have a hard time using the sugars you eat or drink. You may be able to help your body by changing your diet, but you may need a medication to help with this matter. See your health care provider to find out how your body uses sugar.

Stop smoking: This is the single best thing you can do for your health and keep your heart happy.

Need some help quitting? There are many options available today that can work for you. Want to do this at home? Work odd hours? Live in a rural area? 1-800 QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669) is free to all Nevada residents and provides excellent support by highly trained counselors that can personalize a plan for you. There are also numerous resources online to assist you in your journey to quit smoking: NevadaTobaccoQuitline:;

If you would like more of a group format where you meet with other people also trying to quit smoking, Carson Tahoe Cardiology offers classes that are open to the public. These classes are fun and focus on positive support to help you quit. Call 775-445-7651, or email for information.

If you are a smoker, ask yourself these two questions: Can I decrease my risk of heart disease? Is my smoking causing me harm? The answer to both of these questions is yes! This month, be kind to your heart, improve your health, and consider quitting smoking. It can be done and there numerous ways to help you be successful and on a smoke-free path. Your future as a nonsmoker is a beautiful, clean, and great smelling! Embrace the positive aspect of quitting and remind yourself of your reasons to be free of nicotine. Do this for yourself; do this for your heart!

Carson City Health and Human Services is a proud partner with Carson Tahoe Health. For information about services and programs available to you through Carson City Health and Human Services, visit, follow us on Facebook,, or call 775-887-2190. You can also find us at 900 E. Long St. in Carson City.