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    Housecall: Quitting smoking? Boost your chance of success

a close-up of a middle-aged woman, smiling slightly, looking determinedTHIS WEEK'S TOP STORIES
Quitting smoking? Boost your chance of success
Did your New Year's resolutions include quitting smoking? While only about 5 percent of people who try to quit tobacco succeed without using smoking cessation products, that number climbs to 30 percent when they do. Your chance of successfully quitting is even better when you combine behavior therapy with one or more smoking cessation products. You're more than twice as likely to quit smoking if you use prescription medication and professional support versus trying to quit on your own. Here's what you need to know.

Emergency health information: Keep family records within reach
When an emergency happens, whether it's a heart attack or a hurricane, it's critical that medical service providers have access to health information for anyone who needs help. While you can't predict when an emergency will happen, you can be prepared by making sure key health information is up to date, accurate and handy. Are you ready?

When do flu symptoms need medical care?
Most people who have the flu have a mild illness and don't need to see a health care provider. With some rest and self-care measures at home, the average healthy person can expect to get better within about two weeks. However, some people are at greater risk of serious flu-related complications, including pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, and, rarely, hospitalization or death, and should seek medical care. Learn more from Dr. James Steckelberg, an emeritus Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist.

Can folic acid supplements slow cognitive decline?
Reviews of randomized, controlled trials have shown mixed results about whether folic acid supplements have a benefit on cognitive function in healthy adults or in those with mild to moderate cognitive decline or dementia. This is an active area of research. Learn more from Dr. Paul Takahashi, a Mayo Clinic internist and geriatrician.

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Do you know your blood pressure?
If you can't remember the last time you had your blood pressure checked, make an appointment with your health care provider. You can have high blood pressure for years without symptoms. Generally, ask for a blood pressure reading at least every two years, starting at 18. If you're 40 or older, or 18 to 39 with a high risk for high blood pressure, ask your health care provider for a reading every year. He or she may recommend more frequent readings if you have high blood pressure or other risk factors for heart disease.

Need practical advice on diet and exercise? Want creative solutions for stress and other lifestyle issues? Discover more healthy lifestyle topics at mayoclinic.org.

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