Cigarette smokers who are over 65 years of age may be able to lower their risk of cardiovascular disease-related deaths to the level of never-smokers when they quit faster than previously reported, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2013.
A study showed that older people who smoked less than 32 "pack years" - 3.2 packs (20 cigarettes per pack) a day for no more than 10 years or less than one pack a day for 30 years -- and gave up smoking 15 or fewer years ago lowered their risks of developing heart failure or dying from heart failure, heart attacks and strokes to the same level as those who had never smoked.
Previous research showed it may take up to 15 years or more of abstinence for smokers to reach similar cardiovascular death risks as people who never smoke. But many of the people in the study were able to reduce their risk in less than 15 years (median eight years)."It's good news," said Ali Ahmed, M.D., M.P.H., senior researcher and professor of cardiovascular disease at the University of Alabama at Birmingham's School of Medicine. "Now there's a chance for even less of a waiting period to get a cleaner bill of cardiovascular health.
Smokers who smoked less than 32 pack years but quit 15 or fewer years ago still had higher risks of dying from causes unrelated to cardiovascular health, such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema. Former smokers who smoked more than 32 pack years had higher risks of dying from any health condition."Smoking is the most preventable cause of early death in America if you smoke, quit and quit early!" Ahmed said.