Author: Sina Nafisi, M.D., FACC
Kicking the habit is hard – especially for patients who have been smoking for ten, twenty, or thirty years. Oftentimes, patients at risk for heart disease will ask me, “Does it even matter anymore?” The answer is always, “Yes!” Quitting smoking now – even if you’ve been a smoker for several decades – can lower your risk for cardiovascular disease-related death, according to recent research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2013.
What Researchers Learned About Heart Disease & Smoking
Here’s a brief summary of what researchers presented:
- If you smoked 3.2 packs per day for 10 years or less OR smoked less than one pack per day for 30 years AND quit smoking 15 or fewer years ago, THEN you could lower your risk of dying from heart failure, heart attack, and stroke to the same level as a lifelong non-smoker.
- This shakes up the previous medical standard, which proclaimed that smokers had to have quit at least 15 years ago in order to see a reduction in risk for cardiovascular disease-related death.
In conclusion, the research found that cigarette smokers aged 65 and older “may be able to lower their risk of cardiovascular disease-related deaths to the level of never-smokers when they quit faster than previously reported.” (Quote from same source as above.)
The Right Time to Quit Smoking? Today!
The time to quit smoking is always now. To put this new research into an applicable situation, consider this: A man who starts smoking a pack a day at age 20 could quit at age 50 and – fifteen years later, at age 65 – be at the same risk for cardiovascular disease-related death as a man who never smoked in his life.
While certainly not an endorsement for smoking, this is great news for smokers who have “put off quitting” because they believe it won’t make a difference in the long run. New research has shown that quitting smoking today does have real, tangible benefits – and sooner than you might expect! What are you waiting for?
To learn more about smoking and reducing your risk for cardiovascular disease-related death, contact Phoenix Heart Center.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.