The health risks of smoking tobacco are no secret. What we didn’t know, however, is how long it takes after quitting for these health risks to diminish. According to a new American study, it would take 15 years of non-smoking for ex-smokers to regain their cardiovascular health.
Published recently by University of Vanderbilt in the USA, this latest study sweeps all previous research into the “obsolete” category. Until recently, we thought that it only took 5 years after quitting cigarettes for cardiovascular health risks to return to baseline. However, after analysing the data covering a sample of over 9000 smokers, this estimate has been multiplied by three!
The head researchers actually believe the real figures could be higher. Risks of heart failure and cardiovascular diseases only see a reduction of 38% after quitting for 5 years. For the risks to return to a non-smoker’s base line, a smoker would have to give up combustion for up to 16 years.
Heavy smokers hit the hardest
This data only concerns those who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for at least 20 years. The study highlights the extreme health hazards of smoking cigarettes over the long term. For Meredith Duncan, who was leading the study, for the heart to return to its healthiest state would take multiple years whatever the case.
It takes a week without smoking for the heart and blood vessels to no longer be exposed to the toxic components in cigarettes. While the increased risk of heart failure is reduced after quitting, it persists for a long time. The human body can repair the damage done by smoking regularly, but it is a slow process.
This study proved however that total repair is possible, even for heavy smokers. The key take-away from this study is simply that you should quit smoking sooner rather than later, for example by adhering to the Tobacco-Free Month initiative. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in France, with approximately 150,000 preventable deaths every year.