If your spouse, sibling, or someone else who shares your home smokes, urge them to quit. Long suspected as harmful, so-called 'passive' or 'second hand' smoke is now considered group A, or known human carcinogen. This puts it in the same category as such dangerous cancer-causing substances as asbestos.
Infants and young children whose parents smoke are among the most seriously affected by exposure to second hand smoke, being at increased risk of lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Asthmatic children are at greater risk if they have 'passive' smokers around them.
But adults are also harmed by second hand smoke, experts say. Numerous studies, which typically looked at non-smoking wives and their exposure to their husband's cigarette smoking, have found exposure to tobacco smoke harmful. Health experts blame 'passive' smoke for the deaths of up to forty thousand non-smokers annually. That is nearly the number of women who die each year from breast cancer!
Smoking damages the heart. Since the damage can come from the tobacco smoke you inhale voluntarily, or from someone else's cigarette, it is imperative that you not be exposed to cigarette smoke. Obviously, you should not become a prisoner in your smoke-free house. But you should make every effort to discourage public smoking.
What you can do
Do your heart a favor by avoiding smoking and tobacco in all its forms. Break the smoking or tobacco habit.
- Ask to be seated in non-smoking sections in restaurants and book smoke-free ooms in hotels.
- If you are troubled by others smoking in your workplace, discuss your concerns with your supervisor. If that does not help, use a small electric or battery-powered fan to blow out air from your workstation.
- If you are joining a car pool, ask about smoking rules before making a commitment.
- If you live with a family member or friend who smokes, establish smoking and non smoking areas in your home.
As you try to avoid others' smoke, remember that a little courtesy can achieve more than a lot of scorn.
||INVOLVE YOUR FAMILY
Heart disease does not only affect you, but it affects your entire family. Coping with heart disease is a family affair. The relationship between husband and wife is affected the most, when heart disease strikes. Communication is crucial in family relationships all the time, but the need for it is greatest during or just after times of crisis. You may think only heart attack or coronary bypass surgery warrants such classification, but being diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening illness like cancer also puts the family in a similar mental crisis.
If you have young children, they may be frightened that you may not live long. An honest discussion of what heart disease is, emphasizing the medical progress which has been made, can quell their fears. Thanks to modern developments in the treatment of heart disease, you can honestly answer that you expect to live a very long time. If your children are grown-up, your diagnosis of heart disease may hit them surprisingly hard. Such a diagnosis may stir guilt feelings in them, or awaken a realization of your mortality. Since they are older, they may think it childish to express their concern. The stress they are under may manifest itself in other ways, such as chronic migraine, headaches, constant worry or irritability.
The vast majority of adult children in the U.S. live within a two-hour drive of their parents. If they live close by, they may find themselves putting their own lives on hold. Sometimes, they may make decisions not in their own best interests, but what they think will please their parents. This may also occur if they live farther away. If they are driven by guilt, they may not make the right decisions.
Encourage your family members to express their fears and concerns. You may want to schedule a family conference with your doctor, so that everyone can air their concerns and obtain first-hand information. Family support is extremely important when making difficult lifestyle changes. Having a partner while walking can make a big difference when you are trying to establish an exercise pattern. On the other hand, do not expect your partner to drop what he/she is doing because you want to take a walk. If you like to take a walk in the morning, but your spouse is not an early riser, compromise. Perhaps a late afternoon walk will suit you both. To encourage your spouse, give gifts of exercise clothing, club memberships or sports equipment on special occasions. Find new activities you can do together, it can put zest back into your relationship.
If you do it as a family, the lifestyle changes you make will not only benefit you, but them as well. In the past only men were considered vulnerable to heart disease, but now we know this is untrue. The lifestyle changes you make together will benefit your partner, too. If you have young children or teenagers, remember that although coronary artery disease is an adult ailment, researchers have found the beginning of telltale narrowing of the coronary arteries in individuals as young as fifteen! Use your heart disease experience to benefit your whole family. The heart-smart habits your youngsters develop now, will stand them well in later life.
Encourage your kids or your grand kids to join you in exercising. Determine a regular exercise schedule and make it known you are sticking with it! This shows younger members of your family the importance of making time for exercise, not just fitting it in. Also, by exercising with your family, you show that it is a valuable and pleasurable habit.
Involving your family in your action plan can initially be difficult. Communicating sometimes can mean taking risks; for sometimes you are faced with negative answers. But achieving something as valuable as your family's wholehearted support can be well worth the risk.
Facing a crisis such as heart disease can cause stress in the most close-knit families. If your family has serious problems, health problems can be very damaging. If you, or your family members, seem unable to cope up with it, consider talking to your doctor or a social worker about family counseling.