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Quitting smoking could cut the risk of cardiovascular disease by 40% within 5 years, study finds

Quitting smoking could cut the risk of cardiovascular disease by 40% within 5 years, study finds

  • Researchers looked at former heavy smokers who smoked at least one pack a day for 20 years 
  • Compared to current heavy smokers, the former smokers could lower their risk of cardiovascular disease within five years by 40% if they quit
  • It could take between 10 and 25 years after quitting for their risk to be equivalent to someone who had never smoked

Quitting smoking could reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by nearly 40 percent, a new study says.

Researchers found that former heavy smokers could reach lower risk-level within five years after quitting.

However, it could take anywhere from 10 to 25 years after quitting for a former smoker’s cardiovascular disease risk to be as low as that of someone whom has never smoked.  

The team, from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, says the findings provide further evidence – along with decades of health warnings and campaigns – for smokers to quit now so they can start repairing their heart and blood vessels.

A new study from Vanderbilt University has found that it could take up to 25 years for a former heavy smoker’s cardiovascular disease risk to be similar to that of a never smoker (file image)

Adult smoking rates are currently at all-time low in the US, down from 42 percent in the 1960s to 13.9 percent today.

In turn, the number of former smokers is rising, but it’s unclear what – or how many -health risks they face.

‘There was a lack of information about what actually happens to people in the long-term based on estimates from rigorously collected data,’ lead author Meredith Duncan of Vanderbilt University Medical Center told DailyMail.com back in November 2018. 

For the study, published in the Journal of the Medical Association, the team analyzed data from the Framingham Heart Study from 1954 through 2014.

It included more than 8,700 participants, about 3,800 of whom were originally enrolled and about 4,900 whom are their children and grandchildren.

‘The Framingham Heart Study provides particularly robust data on lifetime smoking history,’ said Duncan.

‘Our team leveraged this unique opportunity to document what happens to CVD risk after quitting smoking relative to people who continued to smoke and to those who never smoked.’  

The team looked heavy cigarette smokers who smoked at least one pack a day for 20 years. 

They found that compared with current heavy smokers, former heavy smokers who quit could lower their risk of cardiovascular disease within five years.

‘Previous studies have shown the association between quitting and reduced CVD risk,’ said Duncan.

‘But the current Atherosclerotic CVD Risk Calculator, which is routinely used in clinical practice, considers former smokers’ risk to be similar to that of never smokers after five years of cessation, which is not consistent with these findings.’ 

The new study found that compared to people who had never smoked, it could take anywhere from 10 to 25 years for the cardiovascular disease risk to become as low.    

Researchers say they hope the results convince current smokers to ‘put out their cigarettes’.

‘The cardiovascular system begins to heal relatively quickly after quitting smoking, even for people who have smoked heavily over decades,’ said senior author Dr Hilary Tindle, medical director of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Tobacco Treatment Service. 

‘Full recovery could take years, so now is a great time to quit smoking and take other steps toward heart health.’  

The preliminary findings were originally presented at the American Heart Association conference in Chicago, Illinois, in November 2018. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk