News / Health

Smokers Who Quit May Cut Heart Risk Faster Than Previously Thought

FILE - A man lights a cigarette in Los Angeles, California.
FILE - A man lights a cigarette in Los Angeles, California.
Reuters
Some cigarette smokers over 65 years old who kick the habit may be able to reduce their risk of dying from heart-related problems to the level of those who never smoked far faster than previously believed, according to new research presented on Wednesday.

Previous research found that older former smokers who had consumed less than 32 pack years of cigarettes could reduce their risk of dying from heart disease to the level of lifelong nonsmokers after 15 years.

The pack year measure is derived by multiplying the number of cigarettes smoked per day by the number of years a person was a smoker. For example, 32 pack years would be 3.2 packs a day for 10 years or two packs a day for 16 years.

“The new finding is if you smoke less than 32 pack years, you might become like never-smokers much sooner than 15 years,” said Dr. Ali Ahmed, who reported the findings at the American Heart Association scientific meeting in Dallas.

Many people in the study lowered the risk of developing heart failure, or risk of dying from heart failure, heart attacks and strokes to the same level as those who never smoked in nearly half the time as previous research had indicated.

“For half of them, it was eight years after cessation,” said Ahmed, a professor of cardiovascular disease at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. “Even for the heavier smokers, who smoked more than 32 pack years, compared to current smokers, they will significantly reduce the risk of total mortality by 35 percent [by quitting], so there's a positive message for everybody.”

Cutting the risk to the level of never-smokers was a much higher bar than comparison with current smokers, he added.

Researchers compiled their data by analyzing 13 years of medical information from the Cardiovascular Health Study begun in 1989 and sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. They compared 853 people who quit smoking 15 or fewer years before with 2,557 people who never smoked cigarettes. Of the former smokers, 319 had smoked less than 32 pack years.

Smoking remains the most preventable cause of early death in the United States and elsewhere. So the main message remains: “If you smoke, quit and quit early,” said Ahmed.

But even those who do not stop smoking until they reach the Medicare-eligible age of 65 appear likely to derive heart health benefits from stopping.

While the heart-related mortality benefits seen in the study seem clear, researchers said, lung damage is not as easily reversible. Those who smoked less than 32 pack years and quit up to 15 or more years ago were still at higher risk of dying from lung cancer, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid