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Why We Need To Talk More About Smoking Cessation For Older Women

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While women, on average, live longer than men, this doesn’t mean health risks don’t increase as they age.

For starters, this previous article highlights cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death among women, alongside how the risk of developing this condition is significantly associated with age due to an observed increase in heart attacks about ten years after menopause.

Importance Of Smoking Cessation:

But besides age, women’s lifestyle factors can compound their likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. A notable example is smoking, which women must quit as soon as they can to not only prevent cardiovascular disease but also reduce the risk of premature death and other chronic conditions. Read on to learn more about the importance of smoking cessation even in old age and which interventions women can try to improve their success rates and overall health.

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The Need For Smoking Cessation Among Older Women:

Although smoking rates have relatively declined in younger age groups, older smokers continue to account for the highest rates of tobacco-related morbidity and mortality in the United States. This 2022 study published in the JAMA Health Forum notes no significant decrease in smoking prevalence among those aged 65 and above. In fact, the elderly smoking rate increased from 13% in 2011 to 15.8% in 2022 among those from low-income backgrounds while remaining roughly constant among their high-income counterparts.

“Such health improvements make the smoking cessation approaches in the following section crucial to older women’s lifestyles.”

Aside from cardiovascular disease, the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, pancreas, kidney, and cervix is also increased among female smokers compared to female non-smokers.

Since cervical cancer is frequently diagnosed among older women, it is imperative to quit unhealthy habits like smoking on top of getting the recommended tests and screenings. However, within two to five years of quitting, the risk of heart disease can significantly decrease, while that of cervical cancer will be the same as if a woman had never smoked.

Such health improvements make the smoking cessation approaches in the following section crucial to older women’s lifestyles.

Effective Smoking Cessation Approaches:

Cigarette Alternatives:

Despite the short- and long-term benefits of quitting smoking, older women may still struggle to abstain from cigarettes due to withdrawal symptoms, which range from fatigue and headaches to intense nicotine cravings. However, this site demonstrates the potential of oral nicotine pouches as cigarette alternatives.

Specifically, pouches from the brand Juice Head are made with synthetic or Zero Tobacco Nicotine, ensuring users stay tobacco-free while still addressing their cravings and withdrawals during the cessation process. Since older women may need higher nicotine levels due to longer smoking histories, these flavored pouches are available in 6mg (strong) and 12mg (extra strong) options for a nicotine experience suited to their needs.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy:

Besides tobacco-free alternatives, older women can consider pharmacotherapy to ease cravings and supply nicotine directly into the bloodstream. While there are prescription nasal sprays for fast-acting nicotine delivery, this page explains how transdermal patches from brands like Nicoderm are viable for a slow yet steady nicotine release over a 24-hour period.

“Overall, it is never too late for older women to kick the habit and improve health outcomes even in later life.”

These patches range from 7mg to 21mg, making medical consultations crucial to determining the appropriate dosage. Otherwise, older women may risk increasing their heart rate or blood pressure, especially if they have pre-existing conditions like hypertension and heart disease.

Digital Behavioral Interventions:

Lastly, the previous approaches can be complemented by evidence-based behavioral interventions for higher chances of successful and long-term smoking cessation.

Although older adults may struggle with utilizing behavior-based cessation services, an article in the journal Preventive Medicine highlights the potential of digital technologies in enhancing access and quit rates among this demographic. Through the web-delivered WebQuit intervention, older adults were able to quit at similar rates (24%) as middle-aged (24%) and younger adults (27%).

Overall, it is never too late for older women to kick the habit and improve health outcomes even in later life. By considering the approaches mentioned above, they can reduce the health burdens of smoking in terms of death, disease, and disability.

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