Quitting Time: How stopping smoking affects your heart—and overall—health

While smoking tobacco has numerous ill effects on your health, one of the biggest impacts it has is on your heart health. Smoking not only increases your risk of high blood pressure, stroke and coronary heart disease, but when combined with other risk factors, such as high cholesterol, obesity or diabetes, it has an even stronger effect.

The good news is that if you quit smoking today, you’ll begin to feel the positive effects almost immediately. And the health benefits keep going as time goes on. Consider  this timeline to find out exactly how quitting will help you over the years:

  • 20 minutes | Increased blood pressure and heart rate caused by smoking subsides.
  • 2 weeks | Improved circulation and lung function.
  • 1 month – 9 months | Easier breathing and the ability to begin coughing productively, which cleans the lungs.
  • 1 year | Risk of coronary heart disease reduced by 50 percent.
  • 5 years | Risk of stroke returns to normal, or the same as a non-smoker’s, and risk of certain cancers (including mouth, throat and esophageal cancer) reduced by 50 percent.
  • 10 years | Risk of lung cancer reduced by 50 percent.
  • 15 years | Risk of coronary heart disease returns to normal.

Cigarette smoking accounts for 1 in 5 deaths in the United States.

Ready to quit? CHI St. Vincent partners with the American Lung Association to offer the Freedom From Smoking program, which provides support and strategies for success. Learn more by calling or by visiting chistvincent.com/freedom.

Cardiology Nurse Practitioner and Infirmary’s Freedom From Smoking Program Leader