quit smoking

What Happens If You Quit Smoking?

Quitting smoking seems daunting but your heart starts to rebound right away when you quit smoking, however, a full recovery can take approximately 15 years.

According to Meredith Duncan, a lead researcher of the division of cardiovascular medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn, “The benefit of quitting smoking cannot be overstated. The cardiac system begins to recover quickly, with some physiologic changes happening within hours.”

She and her team found that your risk of heart disease gets lower within 5 years after quitting. This is in comparison to the people who continue to take puff. However, your heart takes 10 to 15 years to recover similar to that of someone who never smoked.

The team collected data of approx. 8,800 people (mean age 42.2 years; 55% women; 60.5% ever smokers; 27% heavy smokers) who took part in the Framingham Heart Study. Among the participants, nearly 2,400 were heavy tobacco users, who smoked at least one pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years, or an equivalent.

During an average follow-up of 26 years, more than 2,400 participants had a heart attack, stroke, heart failure or died from heart disease. Of these, nearly 1,100 were heavy smokers, the researchers found.

What are the risks of smoking?

Smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular issues. The more you smoke, the greater is the risk of heart issues. Tobacco smoke has many different effects on the body including thickening the blood, increasing the risk of blood clots and narrowing the arteries, as well as restricting oxygen in the blood.

High level of CO, together with nicotine in cigarettes, increase the risk of strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, peripheral vascular disease and premature death.

Some of the long-term effects of smoking include:

  • macular degeneration, eye cataracts, yellowing of whites of eyes
  • bad breath, yellow teeth, and tooth decay
  • possible hearing loss
  • shortness of breath
  • mouth cancer
  • laryngeal and pharyngeal cancers
  • coughing
  • triggering asthma
  • increased susceptibility to infection
  • slower healing wounds
  • increased risk of brain damage
  • loss of sense of smell and taste
  • contributes to osteoporosis
  • increased likelihood of back pain
  • chronic bronchitis
  • emphysema
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • stomach ulcers
  • decreased appetite
  • grey appearance
  • early wrinkles
  • irregular periods
  • lower fertility and increased risk of miscarriage
  • early menopause
  • damaged sperm and reduced sperm
  • and impotence, etc.

To avoid such health issues, it’s never too late to quit smoking.

Source: The report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Aug. 20

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