If you’re a smoker, it’s not too late – the risk to your heart decreases quickly after quitting. Men quitting at 66 gained an average 2 years of life, and women gained nearly 4.
How does smoking effect your heart?
Smoking narrows your arteries with a build-up of fatty material (atheroma). This can cause angina, a heart attack or a stroke.
Carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. Your heart then has to pump harder to supply your body with oxygen.
Nicotine found in cigarettes stimulates adrenaline production which forces your heart to work harder by increasing blood pressure and raising your heart rate.
Both carbon monoxide and nicotine cause blood to thicken and clot, causing a heart attack or stroke.
How quickly does quitting help?
20 minutes >> Blood pressure and heart rate return to normal. Circulation improves.
8 hours >> Blood oxygen returns to normal. Chance of heart attack starts to fall.
24 hours >> Carbon monoxide in the body is gone. Lungs start to clear of debris/mucus.
3 days >> Noticeable improvement to breathing.
5 years >> Heart attack risk halved.
10 years >> Lung cancer risk halved.
15 years >> Risk of cardiovascular disease the same as a non-smoker.
Getting help quitting
Written by Dr. Noel Duncan