Quit smoking for 15 years…and it could be like you had never smoked!

quit smokingAll smokers take note: new research has shown that those successfully quit smoking for a sustained period of 15 years, can massively decrease the chance of suffering with heart failure or even dying.

U.S. Scientists made the remarkable discovery that people who stopped smoking almost two decades previously, had a comparable risk to those that had never smoked before.

Despite the findings clearly being a positive for all smokers across the globe, heavier smokers – i.e. those that had gone through at least a packet of cigarettes each day for 32 years or more – still had a slightly increased risk of health problems.

However, lead researcher Dr Ali Ahmed, from the Washington DC VA Medical Center, is pretty clear with the message…people either need to cut down on their smoking, stop smoking as early as they can, or simply never start smoking.

He commented: “While all individuals who quit smoking will benefit from a decreased chance of death, to achieve the full complement of health benefits of smoking cessation of one who has never smoked, smokers need to smoke less and quit early, and for those are not smokers – never start smoking.”

The findings were extracted via the most recent data from the Cardiovascular Health Study, which comprised of 2,556 people that had claimed to never smoked, 629 present smokers and 1,297 previous smokers. Every participant in the study was aged 65 or over, and 312 of the previous smokers admitted to heavy cigarette usage – smoking at least one pack daily for 32 years or more.

After a 13 year follow-up evaluation, the proportion of never smokers and previous smokers who had suffered heart failure, was found to be 21% in both groups. Within the group of former smokers that had consumed one pack per day for at least 32 years, nearly 30% suffered heart failure.

Comparison of mortality risks among present smokers and heavy smokers to never smokers was an interesting find. Researchers accounted for factors such as age, sex, race, education, other health conditions and medications, discovering that present smokers were around twice more likely to die from other diseases in comparison to those that had never smoked, and previous smokers were found to be 26% more likely to die compared to the never smokers.

Dr Ahmed told Reuters: “When one smokes, it induces atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque in the arteries. However, when one quits smoking, the buildup of plaque and risk of blood of clots decreases, allowing one’s cardiovascular risk to return to normal over time.”

Atherosclerosis is the medical term used when a person’s arteries have become narrower and harderned, usually caused by a high level of ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

Statins like atorvastatin (Lipitor) and rosuvastatin (Crestor) are currently taken by around 7 million people in Britain, and work to decrease rates of LDL cholesterol by reducing the production of LDL cholesterol inside the liver. It is dangerous to have high rates of LDL cholesterol as this causes the atherosclerosis, resulting in a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and coronary heart disease.

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