LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -It's a topic that we've already heard a lot about this Heart Month, and doctors will say the same thing...if you want to prevent heart disease, you have to quit smoking.

It's an addiction that kills half a million people each year with an additional 16 million suffering from smoking-related illnesses. Not to mention a whopping $289 billion per year that goes to direct medical costs.

"Cigarette smoking affects every single organ in the body, and it has a devastating effect on the lungs and the heart. Blood supply to your arms, legs, your brain…name a disease and cigarette smoking is directly or indirectly related to that disease," said Dr. Robert Sweeney, cardiologist at Comanche County Memorial Hospital.

For years, we've heard the anti-smoking campaign on TV and from your own doctor, but it's not enough for some people.

"Each day, 3,200 people under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette, and another 2,100 progress to smoking at least a cigarette or more every day," Dr. Sweeney said.

Dr. Sweeney says even though it's a powerful addiction, you can kick the habit.

"Powerful problems require powerful treatment, which will have powerful side effects. It's important we start when people are very young, preventative care and then when we start counseling, we start as soon as they start smoking," Dr. Sweeney said.

It's the number one preventable risk factor of heart disease. Yet one in every four Oklahomans smoke, and that's why Comanche County Memorial Hospital holds frequent smoking cessation classes to help southwest Oklahomans kick the habit.

The cessation classes help with more than just putting out that last cigarette. They also give advice on dealing with emotional events that trigger smoking, as well as ways to reduce stress.

Dr. Sweeney wants people to know it's never too late to quit. If you've tried once and didn't succeed, it doesn't mean you should give up.

If you or someone you know needs help kicking the habit, call the Oklahoma Tobacco helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or visit

In other Heart Month news, mark your calendar for the healthy heart screenings, which will be held on Feb. 29 and March 1 from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Oakwood Conference Center.

The free screening includes an electrocardiogram, heart risk assessment, waist circumference, height, weight and body mass test. For only $20, you can receive lab tests that includes your A1C, good, bad and total cholesterol and triglycerides.

To make an appointment, call 580-585-5406.

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