Staying Cigarette-Free for 15 Years Lowers the Risk of Heart Failure and Premature Death the Same as Non-Smokers, Study Says

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in Blog, death from smoking, health, quit smoking

Dr. Howell

People who quit smoking for 15 years significantly lower their risk of heart failure, new study suggests.

Researchers have discovered that smokers who ditched the habit 15 years ago had the same risk as those non-smokers or those who never smoked.

Orange Heart, Cigarettes And The Cardiogram."concept - Harm Of SWhile the findings were positive for all types of smokers, heavy smokers (those who smoke at least one pack of cigarette a day for three decades or more) manifested a slightly higher risk.

While smokers who quit will benefit from a reduced risk of premature death, to attain the full health benefits of quitting smoking you need to smoke less, quit the habit as early as possible, or better yet never try smoking.

The research studied data from more than 2,500 adults who never smoked, 1,200 former smokers who quit 15 years ago and 620 current smokers. Of those who quit smoking more than 300 were heavy smokers. The subjects were adult aging 65 and over.

After 13 years of the study, around 21% of non-smokers and 21% of former smokers had heart failure. But among former heavy smokers, about 30% had heart failure.

Other factors like sex, age, ethnicity, education, medications or other health conditions, increases risks of current smokers. They are 50% more likely to suffer heart failure than former and non-smokers.

Also, given the same time span, current smokers are two times more likely to die from any cause, than those who never smoked. While former heavy smokers are roughly 26% more likely to die than non-smokers.

The reason for this is the inducement of atherosclerosis or the building-up of plaque in the smoker’s arteries. As a result, the arteries becomes clogged increasing the risk of blood clot and heart attack. But when a smoker quit, the accumulation of plaque and the chance of blood clots also decreases, allowing the person to lower his cardiovascular risk to normal over time.


This study was the first to look into the effects of the smoking history on the health benefits of continued smoking abstinence for former smokers. The health profile of former heavy smokers may not be the same as non-smokers, but the cardiovascular risk are definitely much lower than current smokers, the researchers said.

Other study suggest that quitting the habit of smoking also reduces the risk of other cancers such as cancer of the lungs and upper gastrointestinal tract. Your risks begin to decrease the moment you quit smoking, even at an older age. The human body heals itself. Twelve hours after your last cigarette the carbon monoxide in your blood declines and your circulatory system starts repairing the damages. However, quitting smoking and recovering from the effects of nicotine is a slow process which often times lead to discomforts like coughing, difficulty in sleeping, sore tongue and gums, etc.

The study further suggests that doctors should look more into the cardiovascular health of former heavy smokers.


 


 

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