Customers: We’re here to support you through this challenging time. Learn more.

Quit Smoking Today for Heart Health Tomorrow

Quit Smoking Today for Heart Health Tomorrow

You probably know smoking isn’t good for you, and your doctor has most likely advised you to quit. But what you may not realize is just how much of an impact smoking can have on your heart health. It’s not too late, though. When you quit smoking and your body begins to recover, your risk of heart disease drops dramatically.

According to a recent study, it takes only about eight years for elevated cardiovascular risks to normalize in light to moderate former smokers. These risks include a greater chance of heart attack, stroke, and other heart-related ailments.

The study, conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Medicine, looked at 853 former smokers over the age of 65. The former smokers were compared to a pool of 2,500 nonsmokers. The information was compiled from the files of the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The findings were presented at the 2013 American Heart Association conference.

The findings suggest that many of the heart-related risks caused by smoking can be reduced to the levels of a nonsmoker in less than a decade. Heart disease takes almost 600,000 lives a year in the United States and is a leading cause of death. Smokers are at an even higher risk of a heart-related event. Nonsmokers in the study were found to have a 17 percent chance of dying from heart disease. Light smokers who had only recently quit smoking increased their risk by 14 percent, while heavy smokers who just quit had an additional 22 percent risk. Light to moderate smokers who had quit more than eight years prior showed only the same risks as nonsmokers.

This doesn’t mean all risks from smoking have been eliminated. Former smokers are still more likely to suffer from cancer, emphysema, and other breathing disorders. The overall risk of death for a heavy smoker in the study was 55 percent. For light smokers, this dropped to 43 percent. The risk was only 39 percent for nonsmokers.

Many seniors feel like they’ve smoked for so long there’s no reason to quit — they feel that the damage to their health has already been done. This study reveals the fallacy in that mindset. By quitting today, you can reap the cardiovascular benefits in only a few years. If you need help quitting, your doctor can recommend a smoking cessation program that fits your needs and lifestyle.

See also
Caregivers

Caregivers

Are you caring for an aging parent or loved one? At times, it can be stressful, but you are not on your own! Try our expert advice for managing family issues, keeping mom independent and more. more

Healthcare Pros

Healthcare Pros

Whether you’re a nurse, case worker, doctor or another healthcare professional, you know aging patients have unique needs. Explore our resources for working with this growing population. more

Seniors

Seniors

We all get older, but how you do it is up to you. We have articles and tools to help you live independently and enjoy life the way you want to, as well as other important topics as you age. more