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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid