Study: Risk of heart attack drops to normal 15 years after most smokers quit


An There’s an interesting new study out that states that within 15 years of quitting smoking, smokers see their risk of heart attack drop to the same level as non-smokers.

The study states that these conditions apply for an average smoker. For a heavy smoker — a pack a day or more for 32 years or longer — the risk of heart attack remains elevated even 15 years after that smoker quits.

The study compiled statistics from over 4,400 people over the age of 65 — smokers, nonsmokers and former smokers.  The study found that 21 percent of nonsmokers and 21 percent of former smokers who had quit 15 years earlier or more experienced heart failure — the same rate.

However, of the heavy smokers’ group, that number was 30 percent. Current smokers experienced heart failure at a whopping 50 percent clip.

The message from doctors involved in the study? The body can heal itself from the ravages of tobacco, if given the opportunity:

“Our body can heal itself,” Bich Tran, a public health and epidemiology researcher at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, told Reuters Health by email. “Within 12 hours or few days after the smoking, the level of carbon monoxide in blood will decline and the circulatory system will start repairing the damage.”