Healthy Living: Stress, smoking, and heart health

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012 | Geoff Redick | Categories:
It's a fact of life: some days, your job will stress you out. The phone rings. The printer breaks. Something heavy falls on your toe. "We all know that work is stressful for most people," says Dr. Chad Teeters, chief cardiologist for Highland Hospital. "Everybody would like to have no stress in the workplace, but that's just not real life." When you're stressing, your heart starts pumping harder. That means you're already more likely to have a heart attack. "Essentially the heart's an engine," says Dr. Teeters. "If you rev the engine too much, you're going to blow the engine sooner or later." But how you deal with your added stress at work, can determine the quality and length of your life. Doctors say the way not to deal with the stress, is by smoking. "Every cigarette you smoke, you cut your life expectancy by about 45-seconds to a minute, just from smoking that cigarette," says Dr. Teeters. He also says that smokers who are lighting up to relieve stress, are increasing their risk for heart attack exponentially. A new scientific study from the Archives of Internal Medicine aims to prove that. Researchers found that quitting smoking, even just at work, decreased risks of smoking-related deaths. The study comes from the state of Michigan, which passed its first smoke-free workplace law 10 years ago - about the same time New York passed a similar law. Graphical data contained in the study shows sharp drop-offs in reported heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths, coming almost immediately after smoke-free workplace laws went into effect. "I spend all day long trying to convince people to cut their smoking back by half at-a-time, until they quit altogether," says Dr. Teeters. "So just by having these smoke-free workplace laws in effect, you've basically mandated cutting your smoking in half." Doctors involved in the study also concluded that the incidence of secondhand smoke at work, also significantly increases heart attack risk. You can report violations of New York's Smoke-Free Workplace laws in your place of employment, by clicking here (
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