No matter how long or how much a person has smoked, quitting will help them get healthier, Janette Wheat, Ph.D., of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, said in a news release.
“As soon as you stop, your body begins to heal itself,” said Wheat, an associate professor and Cooperative Extension Program human development specialist.
According to a Centers for Disease Control 2019 report, after someone stops smoking, in 20 minutes the heart rate and blood pressure drop; in 12 hours, carbon monoxide in blood drops to normal. In two weeks to three months, circulation and lung function improve and in a year, the risk for heart disease is half of someone who still smokes.
Quitting smoking also helps a body use insulin better, which can make blood sugar levels easier to manage, according to the news release.
“Ready for inspiration? Check out some compelling stories, part of the CDCs Tips From Former Smokers campaign. If you have diabetes, once you stop, check your blood sugar more often because blood levels may go down. Once your body adjusts to being smoke free, checking as often won’t be necessary,” according to the release.
To help stop smoking, consider nicotine replacement products such as gum, patches and lozenges. They can double the chances of quitting for good.
“But, products with nicotine raise blood sugar so be sure to talk to your doctor about using them if you have diabetes,” advises both Wheat and the CDC.
“If you are not able to quit on the first try, do not give up. It can take several attempts to become smoke free for good. And, don’t necessarily go it alone,” she said.
People should ask friends and family for support or try the free quitSTART app and get free coaching to help quit by calling 1-800 QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). The help is also available in Spanish and several Asian languages. And visit I’m Ready to Quit! for more online resources.
People who are at risk for prediabetes and/or type 2 diabetes should ask their doctors questions such as:
“What is my target blood sugar range? How often should I check my blood sugar? What do these numbers mean? Are there patterns that show changes are needed to my diabetes treatment plan? What changes are needed?”
Diabetics should get an A1C test at least twice a year, more often if they change medications of have other health conditions, Wheat said. The A1C test, also known as the hemoglobin A1C or HbA1c test, is a blood test that measures average blood sugar levels over the past three months. It is commonly used to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes and is the main test to help manage diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Higher levels are linked to diabetes complications.
“If you have questions about numbers or managing diabetes, work closely with a doctor or a health care team,” Wheat said.
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all of its Extension and Research programs and services without discrimination.
— Carol Sanders is a writer/editor at the UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences.