A new study from Tel Aviv University says, smoking cessation significantly increases cardiac health later in life.
The research found that quitting smoking after a heart attack has about the same positive effect as other major interventions such as lipid-lowering agents like statins or more invasive procedures.
"It's really the most broad and eye-opening study of its kind.
Smoking really decreases your life expectancy after a heart attack.
Those who have never smoked have a 43 percent lower risk of succumbing after a heart attack, compared to the persistent smoker," said Dr. Yariv Gerber of TAU's Sackler School of Medicine.
However, even those with a history of smoking can see their risk sharply decline once they give up the habit.
"We found that people who quit smoking after their first heart attack had a 37 percent lower risk of dying from another, compared to those who continued to smoke," Dr. Gerber said.
In the study, the researchers looked at data that covered more than 1,500 patients, 65 years old or less, who were discharged from hospitals in 1992 and 1993 in central Israel, all after their first acute myocardial infarction.
At the time of their first heart attack, 27 percent of the men in the study had never smoked, some 20 percent reported being former smokers, while more than half admitted to being current smokers.
After leaving the hospital, the smokers attempted to quit. Among this group, 35 percent were able to abstain over the next decade or so.
Analyzing data spanning more than 13 years, the researchers concluded that the greatest risk of death occurred in those people who continued to smoke, even when socioeconomic measures, cardiovascular risk factors and medical treatment were taken into consideration.
Those who quit smoking before the first heart attack had a 50 percent lower mortality rate, while those who quit after their heart attack lowered that rate by a whopping 37 percent compared with those who continued to smoke.
The results of the study were reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. (ANI)