AHA Scientific Position -About 48 million Americans smoke cigarettes, but most smokers are either actively trying to quit or want to quit. Since 1965, more than 40 percent of all adults who have ever smoked have quit.
According to the 1990 Surgeon General's Report, The Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation, eliminating smoking can greatly reduce the occurrence of coronary heart disease and other forms of cardiovascular disease. The report also states that quitting smoking reduces the risk of repeat heart attacks and death from heart disease by 50 percent or more. Smoking cessation is important in the medical management of many contributors to heart attack.
The 1990 Surgeon General's Report includes these findings:
- After one year off cigarettes, the excess risk of heart disease caused by smoking is reduced by half. After 15 years of abstinence, the risk is similar to that for people who've never smoked.
- In 5 to 15 years, the risk of stroke for ex-smokers returns to the level of those who've never smoked.
- Male smokers who quit between ages 35 to 39 add an average of 5 years to their lives. Female quitters in this age group add 3 years. Men and women who quit at ages 65 to 69 increase their life expectancy by 1 year.