Cigarette smoke causes plaque to build up in your arteries. This, says the Heart and Stroke Foundation, raises your risk of blood clots, reduces the oxygen in your blood, pushes up your blood pressure and makes your heart work harder.

If you have diabetes, the danger is even greater, according to Diabetes Canada:

  • People with diabetes face an even greater risk from smoking: just like high blood glucose (sugar) levels, the poisonous chemicals in cigarette smoke attack blood vessels. This contributes to hardening of the arteries (or what is known as atherosclerosis) which impairs the blood’s ability to carry oxygen throughout the body.

Together, the deadly combination of high blood glucose (sugar) and smoking dramatically increases damage to the blood vessels that feed the heart, brain, eyes, kidneys and peripheral nerves, speeding up the long-term complications of diabetes.

Along with coronary disease and stroke, those complications include kidney disease, blindness and nerve damage leading to amputation. The good news is that many of the risks from smoking aren’t permanent. Check out these encouraging facts from the Heart and Stroke Foundation:

  • Within one year of quitting, you’ll have cut in half your risk of smoking-related coronary heart disease.
  • Within five years, your risk of having a stroke will be almost that of a non-smoker.
  • Within 10 years, you will cut in half your risk of dying from lung cancer.
  • Within 15 years, you’ll have about the same risk of coronary heart disease as a non-smoker.

The sooner you kick the habit, the sooner you’ll start to see the benefits, so keep trying!

Five tips to help you become smoke-free, from the Heart and Stroke Foundation:

  1. Set a date to quit.
  2. Identify your smoking triggers.
  3. Snack on carrots and celery to keep your hands busy.
  4. Make your car and home smoke-free zones.
  5. Ask for help from family, friends and your healthcare provider.