How Quitting Smoking Helps Avoid Cardiovascular Disease
September 19, 2019
According to a recent medical study, former heavy smokers face significantly lower risks for developing cardiovascular disease (e.g. stroke, coronary heart disease, etc.) than current smokers. Although it is no secret that smoking causes serious health problems and is often deadly, the findings confirm just how beneficial quitting can be.
Smoking greatly increases a person’s risk for developing different types of cardiovascular disease. For example, smoking increases the incidence of stroke and coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times the normal rate. Cardiovascular disease is already one of the leading causes of death in the United States – and researchers estimate that smoking accounts for 20% of the total fatalities – so taking preventive measures is critical.
Although doctors take note of whether or not a patient smokes, they tend to consider former smokers (i.e. ones who quit 5 or more years ago) just as low risk for certain dangerous health conditions as those who never smoked a day in his or her life. This is problematic because not many studies have taken a close look at how medical issues, like cardiovascular disease, can persist even years after a person quits smoking.
The study’s results were published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Researchers evaluated the rate of stroke, cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction (heart attack), and heart failure in thousands of current and former heavy smokers. Heavy smokers are typically considered individuals who have smoked a minimum of one pack a day for 20 years (or more).
The researchers found that former heavy smokers face significantly lower risks for CVD, or cardiovascular disease, 5 years after quitting than current smokers do. But, they also found that formers smokers continue to face higher risks for CVD than people who never smoked. This data is important for medical professionals to take into account so that they can properly evaluate each patient’s risk level for developing cardiovascular disease.
Symptoms of Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular – or heart – disease, includes a variety of conditions that affect the heart. Although there are several different kinds of heart disease, there are some general signs and symptoms to look out for. Some of the most common are:
- Chest tightness, pain, pressure, and discomfort (also known as angina);
- Pain in the throat, neck, jaw, upper abdomen, or back;
- Pain, weakness, numbness, or coldness in the arms or legs;
- Shortness of breath, and:
- Irregular heartbeat
If you believe you or a loved one may be experiencing a heart attack or stroke (such as chest pain, one-sided numbness or weakness, sudden loss of movement, or severe upper body discomfort), call 9-1-1 right away.
Cardiovascular disease causes nearly one-third of all deaths in the U.S., which means that someone dies every 38 seconds. Smoking is a major risk factor for CVD and even though quitting can be scary and difficult, it is never too late. If you would like to learn more about smoking cessation and how to lower health risks associated with using tobacco products, please consider making an appointment with a healthcare professional. If you have any additional questions or concerns, feel free to contact a representative at our firm directly.
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