(and 5 Other Benefits of Quitting on Your Heart Health)
Quitting today does have great benefits to your health, even if you quit at the age of 65. In fact, you can actually reduce your risk of dying from heart-related problems to the level of non-smokers far faster than previously thought. That’s according to a new study presented at the American Heart Association scientific meeting in Dallas.
Past studies suggest that older adults who have consumed less than 32 pack years could reduce their risk of dying from heart disease to the level of those who never smoked after 15 years. Pack year is measured by multiplying the number of cigarettes consumed per day by the number of years the person has smoked. In this case, 32 pack years would mean 3.2 packs of cigarettes daily for 16 years.
Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine analyzed 13 years of medical information which begun in 1989. They compared 853 people who quit smoking 15 or fewer years with 2,557 who never smoked cigarettes.
The new study suggests that if a person has smoked less than 32 pack years and quit now, they could lower their risk to that of people who never smoked much sooner than 15 years. “Even for the heavier smokers, who smoked more than 32 pack years, compared to current smokers, they will significantly reduce the risk of total mortality by 35 percent (by quitting), so there’s a positive message for everybody,” said Dr. Ali Ahmed, the lead author of the study.
Benefits of Quitting to Your Heart
Improved blood circulation
When you stop smoking, your blood circulation will improve as the level of toxins and chemicals in your blood vessels decline. Impaired blood flow is one of the greatest risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
Lower blood pressure
Your risk of developing heart disease goes down the moment you stop smoking. 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure will drop. 12 hours after quitting, the carbon monoxide level in your blood will also go down.
Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of heart disease as much, if not more than the common medicines used to lower heart disease risk like aspirin, statin, ACE inhibitor, and beta-blockers.
Reduced risk of repeat heart attack
Heart attack on the second, third and fourth time can be fatal. If you have suffered from heart attack in the past, continuing to smoke could greatly increase your risk of repeat heart attack.
Reduced blood clots
The chemicals in tobacco smoke hinder blood flow, causing your blood vessels to constrict and form blood clots. Fortunately, quitting smoking cuts your risk of arthrosclerosis and blood clots decline over time.
Improved overall cardiovascular health
Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of heart disease as much, if not more than the common medicines used to lower heart disease risk like aspirin, statin, ACE inhibitor, and beta-blockers. Studies show that the number of heart attacks dramatically decline within the first year of quitting.
Depending on how long you have smoked, you may not be able to reverse some of the damage caused by tobacco use to your heart just by quitting alone. However, you can improve your overall health and lower your risk of not just heart disease but all other chronic illnesses. Add healthy diet and exercise in your lifestyle to speed up the recovery of your heart from the ill effects of smoking.