Smoking has been linked to various diseases such as heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, and even cancer. Though many people are quitting smoking for the past years, a new study suggests it may actually take 15 years for them to wait before their stroke and heart disease risks go down to normal levels.
Cigarette smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels.
A team of researchers at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center found it could take as much as 15 years before the hearts fully recover from smoking, which is more than the previously-estimated five years. This means that smokers in the past may still have a risk of suffering from these diseases, even if they’ve already kicked the habit. As the famous adage goes, “The damage has been done”.
Fortunately, it still isn’t too late since the heart disease risk dramatically dropped among quitters by as much as 38 percent after five years.
To land to their findings, the researchers analyzed data from 8,700 people for over five decades. They found that among smokers, the body can get rid of the potentially life-threatening damage of tobacco, nicotine, and other dangerous chemicals in cigarettes.
The heart and blood vessels are the fastest to recover from smoking damage but to fully recover, it may still take several years. However, they also discovered that it only takes 20 minutes after a person stops smoking for his or her heart rate and blood pressure to return to normal levels.
Stopping cigarette smoking can restore one's health, but full recovery may take time.
After about 12 hours upon complete cessation of smoking, carbon monoxide levels in the blood start to normalize and go to an undetectable level. By about one week after, the heart risk drops since the blood vessels are not exposed to the dangers of cigarette smoking.
Meredith Duncan, a co-author of the study, explained:
“For people who have smoked heavily over many years, there could be changes in the heart and lungs that don’t completely normalize.”
“What’s key to remember is that the actual risk of heart attack and other forms of cardiovascular disease goes down, and this is the main finding of our current study.”
Smoking can lead to stroke, heart disease, cancer, and hypertension.
Approximately 17.9 million people worldwide die from cardiovascular diseases every year, that’s about 31 percent of the total deaths globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports.
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