The most crucial step you can take to lower your risk of heart disease is to quit smoking. Smoking is one of the leading risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Smoking causes a buildup of a fatty substance, or plaque, in the arteries, which eventually leads to a hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. Smoking damages your organs, causing your body to function less optimally and increasing your risk for heart disease. It reduces your amount of good cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein, and raises blood pressure, which can cause increased stress on your arteries.
Smoking cessation has been proven to reduce heart disease. Many states have begun programs to limit or reduce smoking in the general population.
The effects of quitting smoking are quite sudden. Your blood pressure will decrease, your circulation will improve, and your oxygen supply will increase. These changes will boost your energy level and make exercise easier. Over time, your body will begin to heal. Your risk for heart disease reduces after you quit, and may be considerably reduced over time. You should avoid others who smoke because secondhand smoke can also negatively impact your health.