How to stop smoking

Feel healthy quitting smoke
Feel healthy quitting smoke

Around 70 per cent of smokers want to quit. 1 If your heart attack or unstable angina means you’re now one of them, read this.

Smoking and your heart

Smoking contributes to unstable angina and heart attack in a variety of ways, including:2

  • Damaging your blood vessels. Smoking accelerates the furring up and narrowing of your blood vessels.
  • Increasing the risk of blood clots. Smoking makes clotting more likely as it can affect the process of blood coagulation.
  • Reducing the amount of oxygen your blood cells carry. Smoking causes damage to the lungs, making it more difficult for oxygen to get into your blood in the first place.

It’s not too late to give up smoking

Don’t assume it’s too late to give up smoking – your heart is fragile, but resilient if you help it. Over a number of years after you stop smoking, your risk of heart disease will gradually reduce. You won’t undo the damage you’ve already done but your rate of accumulating more damage will be slower than someone who continues to smoke.3

 Giving up can lower your risk of a fatal heart attack or stroke, alongside taking your medication and healthy lifestyle choices. Your risk of other serious conditions, such as lung disease, will also be lowered.3

How to give up smoking

If you get support to give up smoking, you’re more likely to succeed. 4

Your GP, pharmacist or cardic rehabilitation team, can refer you to a local NHS Stop Smoking service for one-to-one guidance and group sessions. They can also prescribe treatments that can support you in stopping smoking, such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or drugs that block the effects of nicotine.5

  Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) releases nicotine steadily into your bloodstream via gum, patches or nasal sprays. Your GP will direct you to the best type for you.5

  Alternatively, your GP can prescribe drugs that help to block the effects of nicotine and calm your cravings.5  Find out more at

What makes this time different?

As well as physical addiction, smoking is a psychological habit, so understanding why you depend on it is vital. Do you use cigarettes as a prop during stressful situations?

Identifying your trigger habits and trying to think of alternatives may help. If you always light up after your morning coffee, can you go for a short walk instead? Get support from non-smoking friends and keep busy. 6

Stay positive

You may feel worse before you start to reap the benefits, particularly in the first few days. Common withdrawal experiences include cravings, lack of concentration, dizziness and feeling restless or irritable.7  Be aware of these possible symptoms and focus on the positives. For example, in just 48-72 hours, you’ll begin to breathe more easily, and will be able to taste and smell better.8

  The benefits are immense – not only for your health but also for your bank account! Use the Cost Calculator at to work out the cash you’re saving and put it towards an inspirational treat to look forward to. 

‘I did – and you can, too!’‘

I smoked 20 a day for over 40 years but I don’t miss it. I feel immensely lucky that I survived my heart attack. My advice is to focus on the positives of giving up – being with your family and all the gains you can make. I’ve had a new lease of life!’

Bob Carson, 64, gave up smoking after a heart attack.  


Are you worried you’ll be tempted to smoke in social situations? Our tips may help.