Letter: Quit Smoking for Heart Health

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To the Editor:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is a leading cause of heart disease and heart disease is a major cause of death among African Americans.

Smoking can:

• Raise triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood)
• Lower "good" cholesterol (HDL)
• Make blood sticky and more likely to clot, which can block blood flow to the heart and brain
• Damage cells that line the blood vessels
• Increase the buildup of plaque (fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances) in blood vessels
• Cause thickening and narrowing of blood vessels

Smoking can lead to the narrowing of blood vessels and high blood pressure and quitting smoking greatly improves heart health. So make a resolution for a healthier life for you and your family. If you're a smoker, quitting is the most important step you can take to protect your health, decreasing the risk of lung disease, cancer, and even early death.
If you want to quit and tried in the past, don’t give up. It often takes several tries before you can quit for good. However, with planning and support, you can become tobacco-free.

The Massachusetts Smokers’ Helpline offers both telephone and online support 24 hours a day, seven days a week (with some holiday exceptions) by calling 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) or through KeepTryingMA.org. Online support includes quit planning tools and chatting with others who are trying to quit. Free nicotine patches, gum and lozenges are available to eligible users. The combination of coaching and quit-smoking medication can make you nearly three times as likely to quit for good!

Quitting smoking can be hard — here are five ways to make it easier:

1. Set a quit date. Choose a quit day this month. Give yourself about two weeks to prepare.


2. Tell your family and friends you plan to quit. Share your quit date with important people and ask for their support. Daily encouragement and planned activities can help you stay on track. For example, a smoke-free lunch date or game night could help distract you.
3. Anticipate and plan for challenges. The urge to smoke is short — usually only three to five minutes. Those moments can feel intense. Before your quit date, write down healthy ways to cope with cravings so you can get past them.

Healthy choices include:

o Drinking water
o Taking a walk or climbing the stairs
o Calling or texting a friend

4. Remove cigarettes and other tobacco from your daily routine. Throw away your cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays. Clean your car and home. Old cigarette odors can cause cravings.
5. Talk to your doctor about quit-smoking medications. Over-the-counter or prescription medicines can help you quit for good. Your quit coach and pharmacist can also provide guidance.

For more information, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit KeepTryingMA.org.

Make the choice to quit today, the beginning of a smoke-free and healthier you!
For more information contact: Joyce Brewer, TFCP program manager, Berkshire AHEC, 413-236-2145 or jbrewer@berkshireahec.org.

Joyce Brewer
North Adams, Mass.

 

 

 

 


Tags: smoking awareness,   

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Estate Plans Can Help You Answer Questions About the Future

Submitted by Edward Jones

The word "estate" conjures images of great wealth, which may be one of the reasons so many people don't develop estate plans. After all, they're not rich, so why make the effort? In reality, though, if you have a family, you can probably benefit from estate planning, whatever your asset level. And you may well find that a comprehensive estate plan can help you answer some questions you may find unsettling – or even worrisome.

Here are a few of these questions:

* What will happen to my children?
With luck, you (and your co-parent, if you have one) will be alive and well at least until your children reach the age of majority (either 18 or 21, depending on where you live). Nonetheless, you don't want to take any chances, so, as part of your estate plans, you may want to name a guardian to take care of your children if you are not around. You also might want to name a conservator – sometimes called a "guardian of the estate" – to manage any assets your minor children might inherit.

* Will there be a fight over my assets? Without a solid estate plan in place, your assets could be subject to the time-consuming, expensive – and very public – probate process. During probate, your relatives and creditors can gain access to your records, and possibly even challenge your will. But with proper planning, you can maintain your privacy. As one possible element of an estate plan, a living trust allows your property to avoid probate and pass quickly to the beneficiaries you have named.

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