An Unusual Reason to Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking could save your life in a way you may not know.

We have all heard smoking is a bad habit and not good for you. Children are taught in elementary school to not even begin smoking. And those who do smoke are encouraged to stop and lead a healthier lifestyle.

I remember that when I was about 15, I tried smoking. It was awful…horrible. I still do not understand why people smoke and what makes them start such a bad habit in the first place, especially young children. It tastes and smells terrible.

And whoever thought of taking a bunch of dried leaves, crushing them, rolling them into some paper, lighting it and puffing away on it?

An Upper Milford man I know stopped smoking after nearly 45 years of puffing on cigars and cigarettes. I applaud him—it was quite a feat. 

He quit gradually—decreasing by one every few days. When he got down to one, he said he no longer liked the taste and stopped altogether. He was congratulated by all who knew of his accomplishment.

But two weeks later he began to have some dull chest pains and attributed it to withdrawal symptoms. Then, the shortness of breath started. It was time to see a doctor, he said. This isn’t withdrawal.

Tests were ordered. Chest X-rays. EKGs. Stress Test. Cardiologist. Diagnosis:  blocked artery in the heart. Three days later it was off to surgery to have three stents put in the same artery—one area was 90 percent blocked.

“How could this have happened and I not know it?” wondered the township resident.

Could it be related to my quitting smoking, he asked his cardiologist. Everything was fine until then.

“It is most certainly related—but that doesn’t mean you can go back to smoking,” his doctor said.

According to the doctor, smoking acts as a sedative in the body. This man may have been having very mild symptoms for quite some time and felt no pain or discomfort while he was puffing away. His doctor told him he was “a heart attack waiting to happen." It was when he stopped smoking that the symptoms were now being felt, he said.

A former Upper Milford resident told me he noticed that when he smokes, his back pain eases up. The doctors can’t seem to find a reason for his pain and none of the painkillers, either over-the-counter or prescribed, relieve his pain.  But a few puffs of a cigar or a cigarette will. Unfortunately, it also sedates the symptoms of other illnesses, aches and pains, as well. Hopefully, the doctors will be able to find the cause of his back pain and the gentleman will stop smoking before he, too, is a heart attack waiting to happen.

So now you have another reason to quit smoking—you’ll have a better chance to feel the symptoms of any problems before you have a heart attack or stroke.


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