By MIA DE GRAAF
Smokers will have to wait 15 years after quitting for their heart disease and stroke risk to return to a normal level, a new study has found.
Previous studies suggest former smokers’ stroke risk stabilizes within five years, but new research shows it may take triple the time.
The report, which will be presented next week at the American Heart Association conference, is the first to examine the connection in a living cohort.
After analyzing data on 8,700 people spanning 50 years, researchers at Vanderbilt found it takes well over a decade for smokers’ hearts to rid themselves of the life-threatening damage of nicotine, tobacco, and the myriad of other chemicals in cigarettes.
Unfortunately, this is the good news. The heart and blood vessels are the fastest to recover from smoking damage, explains lead author Meredith Duncan, a PhD student at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The lungs are another story entirely.
Heart disease is the number one killer in every country in the world, including the US and the UK, while rates are rising (due to obesity, stress, lack of exercise, and poor diets) the number of organs available for transplant is not.
Thankfully, one of the biggest risk factors – cigarettes – has been falling out of fashion since The Cigarette Papers was published in the early 90s, revealing the true harm they deliver.
As such, the number of former smokers is on the rise, but we don’t know a huge amount about what health risks (or lack thereof) they face.
In recent years, some have turned to vaping – a dubious and under-studied practice that has been shown to inflict the same chemical and addiction blow as combustible cigarettes.
Many, though, went cold turkey, mostly to protect themselves and their loved-ones from the elevated cancer, lung disease, heart disease and stroke risk.
Duncan and her team in Nashville, Tennessee, wanted to explore how long it took for that decision to start showing real health effects.
‘There was a lack of information about what actually happens to people in the long-term based on estimates from rigorously collected data,’ Duncan told DailyMail.com.