Monday, 17 May 2010

Why Diabetes and Smoking Don't Mix

Why Diabetes and Smoking Don't Mix

One out of every five people with diabetes smokes cigarettes. Most of them know this habit is unhealthy. Smoking is linked to cancer, heart disease and other health problems. But smoking is even more hazardous to your health if you have diabetes.

The shared heart disease threat

On their own, both diabetes and smoking increase the risk of heart attack and stroke:

  • People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than people without the disease. Chronic high blood sugar damages the body's blood vessels, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
  • Smoking is linked with heart attack and stroke because it can:
    • Lower HDL or "good" cholesterol levels
    • Raise blood pressure
    • Reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your organs
    • Cause blood clots to form

Double the danger

People with diabetes who smoke are three times more likely to die of heart disease than those with diabetes who don't smoke. Smoking also ups the odds of other dangerous diabetes complications:

  • Nerve damage
  • Kidney disease
  • Foot problems
  • Diabetic eye disease

Smoking can also raise blood sugar levels and make diabetes harder to control.

Even if you don't have diabetes yet, studies show that smoking cigarettes may help trigger type 2 diabetes. Smoking can cause insulin resistance, a precursor to both type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

It's time to quit

The bottom line is that smoking makes diabetes worse. Quitting smoking is crucial for good blood sugar control. It's never too late to kick the cigarette habit. Even if you've smoked for years, quitting now can greatly improve your health.

Tips for quitting success

Quitting is challenging, but it can be done. People who are successful often combine behavior change techniques with medication, like nicotine replacement therapy, which gradually weans you off nicotine. Try these tips:

  • Pick a quit date and tell all of your friends and family when this date is.
  • Don't go "cold turkey." Ask your doctor about nicotine replacement products, like the patch or gum.
  • Seek counseling. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) says that smoking cessation counseling should be a part of everyone's diabetes care. Your doctor can suggest a smoking cessation program.
  • Get rid of all cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays. Having smoking paraphernalia around can up your chances of relapsing.
  • Write down your reasons for quitting. Carry the list with you at all times. When you get the urge to smoke, read this list.
  • Prepare for cravings. Keep gum or hard sugar-free candy on hand and have them when you want a cigarette. Carry marbles or a small rubber ball with you to play with when you miss having something in your hands.
  • Avoid trigger situations. If you relate certain locations or situations with smoking, steer clear of them for awhile. Try to avoid places where a lot of people are smoking. Spend time in places where smoking is not allowed.
  • Stay busy. Do activities that you can't do while smoking a cigarette. Take a shower or exercise.
  • Get a quit buddy. Ask a friend who smokes to quit along with you.
  • Expect setbacks. Most people make several quit attempts before they finally quit for good. A relapse is normal. Though it's frustrating, it's not a reason to give up.

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