Talking to an empty chair may be a sign that it's time for 82-year-old Clint Eastwood to stop smoking (he smokes in his movies, and even that's risky). Damage to the brain's vascular system is a major hazard from that nasty habit. But when it comes to quitting, it's never too late. He can make his day - and add more days to his life as well.
Even longtime smokers can get huge health benefits from stopping. But if they keep smoking, at 60 they'll have the same risk of a heart attack as a 79-year-old nonsmoker.
If you're a longtime smoker, here's a short list of the better-health-right-now benefits of quitting:
1. Stop today and in 20 minutes, your blood pressure and pulse will decrease.
2. In 24 hours your chance of a heart attack begins to decrease.
3. In five years, you're at half the risk for a heart attack or stroke as a smoker.
4. Quit at 50? By age 65, your risk of heart disease - and life expectancy - is similar to folks who never smoked.
So take the smart steps that will help you succeed: Go to RealAge.com and search for "YOU can quit smoking plan." You'll find all the info and tips you'll need. Sign up for a smoking cessation program; they make a huge difference when you crave "just one puff." Try a nicotine patch; they're effective, too. And amp up your physical exercise. Doing 30 minutes of aerobics daily takes the edge off withdrawal big-time.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.