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Chuck the stick and save your heart

Quit smoking now and prevent further health risks. Not news for most but a recent study confirms the direct link of smoking cessation to the recovery of damaged arteries due to cigarettes. Although it may take more than a decade for the arteries to heal, Dr. Noor A. Jatoi of the Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland pointed out that the adverse effects of smoking to the blood vessels are reversible. The findings supported studies showing that the risk of heart attack and stroke falls among smokers when they quit three to 20 years after, he said.

“Our study reinforces the message that smoking cessation is an important step smokers can take to enhance the quality and length of their lives,” Jatoi said. “The longer one stops smoking the better.” The study showed that smoking a single cigarette or exposure to “second-hand” smoke all lead to stiffer arteries, which eventually lead to high blood pressure. Jatoi’s research team found that the arterial stiffness parameters of ex-smokers showed some improvements after one to 10 years of cigarettes, but reached normal levels only after more than a decade.

Among the 150 current smokers, 136 ex-smokers and 268 nonsmokers in the study, current and ex-smokers of only one year had significantly narrowed arteries compared to nonsmokers, the team reported in the medical journal Hypertension. The ex-smokers were categorized as to how long they were off cigarettes-under 1 year, more than 1 but less than 10 years and more than 10 years, of smoking cessation, Jatoi explained.

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