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What Are the Benefits of Quitting Smoking?

One of the best ways to reduce your risk of coronary heart disease is to avoid tobacco smoke. Don't ever start smoking. If you already smoke, quit. No matter how much or how long you've smoked, quitting will benefit you.

Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke. Don't go to places where smoking is allowed. Ask friends and family members to not smoke in the house and car.

Quitting smoking will benefit your heart and blood vessels. For example:

  • Heart disease risk associated with smoking begins to decrease soon after you quit. It continues to decrease over time. Your risk is cut in half 1 year after quitting. If you have not developed heart disease within 15 years of quitting, your risk is nearly the same as the risk in someone who has never smoked.
  • Deaths from heart disease are reduced by one-third in people who quit smoking compared with people who continue smoking. Repeat heart attacks are reduced by about the same amount.
  • People who smoke and already have heart disease lower their risk of sudden cardiac death, second heart attacks, and death from other chronic diseases by as much as half if they quit smoking.
  • Your risk of atherosclerosis and blood clots declines over time after you quit smoking.

Quitting smoking can lower your risk of heart disease as much as, or more than, common medicines used to lower heart disease risk, including aspirin, statins, beta-blockers, and ACE inhibitors.

In recent years, communities in Montana, Colorado, New York, Massachusetts, Indiana, and Ohio have banned smoking at worksites and in public places. Some countries, including Italy, Ireland, Norway, Scotland, and France, have put similar bans in place.

Studies of these communities show a rapid drop in the number of heart attacks within the first year of the ban. The number of heart attacks continues to decrease as time goes on.

Researchers think these results are due to a decrease in active smoking and reduced exposure to secondhand smoke.

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December 20, 2011 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.