New research suggests that smokers who quit can reduce their heart disease risk even more quickly than previously thought, and possibly return it to normal levels.
Cigarette smoking increases the risk of breathing problems, lung cancer and heart disease. But a new study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that smokers who quit as soon as 8 years ago could lower their risk of heart disease to that of those who had never smoked.
Previous research had indicated that it took an average of 15 years for former smokers to return to normal cardiovascular health.
The 319 people studied were over age 65 and had smoked fewer than 32 “pack years.” Pack years are measured by multiplying the number of cigarette packs smoked per day times the number of years a person has smoked.