What Happens When You Stop Smoking?

© Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock Your body responds to being smoke-free after only 20 minutes. Look out for these changes to

Quit Smoking© Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock

Your body responds to being smoke-free after only 20 minutes. Look out for these changes to encourage you to quit:

After 20 minutes: Blood pressure and heart rate begin to drop.

After 8 hours: Carbon monoxide level in blood decreases. You can cope better with physical exertion and may manage with less medication.

After 24 hours: Carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body. The heart’s supply of oxygen increases substantially, reducing the chances of chest pain following exertion.

After 14 days: Blood circulates more efficiently.

After 1 month: Skin appearance improves.

After 3 months: Lung function begins to improve.

After 1 year: The risk of having a heart attack reduces by up to 50 percent. If you’ve had a heart attack, quitting smoking reduces your risk of a subsequent fatal heart attack by 25 percent.

However determined you are to quit, there may be times when you struggle. To stay on track, try to:

  • Keep busy
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Exercise
  • Buy yourself a special treat with the money you’re saving
  • Avoid other smokers
  • Find a quitting partner
  • Avoid triggers

Plus: Is Loneliness as Harmful as Smoking?

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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