How can quitting smoking help my heart and lifestyle?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Quitting smoking lets the inside cells of your arteries called your endothelial cells start to heal.  That immediately allows you to produce more nitric oxide which is something that dilates blood vessels.  It is responsible for not only pleasure during orgasm, but also allowing erections to occur, reducing wrinkles, and reducing heart attacks, strokes and memory loss because you are repairing the inside of your arteries.

Joanne M. Foody, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Your health risks start decreasing quickly after you stop smoking, and they continue dropping over time. You’ll see big benefits after you quit, no matter how long you’ve been smoking – even if you’ve already developed some smoking-related problems.

Look at the health improvements you can expect within the first year:

• 20 minutes after quitting: Your blood pressure and heart rate will drop.
• 12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood will return to normal.
• 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation and lung function will improve.
• 1 to 9 months after quitting: You’ll cough less and you’ll have less shortness of breath. Your lungs will be more able to handle mucus, clean themselves, and reduce your risk of infection.
• 1 year after quitting: Your excess risk of heart disease will be half that of a smoker.
And the benefits don’t stop there! Within several years your stroke and heart disease risk can equal that of a non-smoker’s and your risk of cancer will be dramatically reduced as well. You’ll also see immediate benefits in your everyday life:

• Your breath will smell better.
• Your teeth will get whiter.
• Your clothes and hair will stop smelling of cigarette smoke.
• Your yellow fingers and fingernails will disappear.
• Your senses of smell and taste will improve.
• Everyday activities – like climbing stairs or doing light housework – won’t leave you out of breath.

There’s one more important benefit to stopping smoking: You’ll save money! Smoking is expensive. When you stop buying cigarettes, the payoff is big.

Cigarette Butt
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, 1 year after quitting smoking, the risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker; 5 to 15 years after quitting, your risk for stroke is reduced to that of a nonsmoker; 15 years after quitting, your risk for coronary disease is the same as that of a nonsmoker.
Imran K. Niazi, MD
Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology

Smoking has many ill effects, which cause health problems, and can impact your lifestyle significantly, even before it causes obvious disease. Cigarette smoke contains a witch's brew of chemicals that are absorbed directly into your body through the delicate membranes of your lungs.

Smokers have higher carbon monoxide levels and lower oxygen levels in their blood. Small wonder that they have less energy and less stamina.

In men, studies show that male hormone levels are lower in smokers than nonsmokers, and this leads to lower sex drive and performance.

Stopping smoking can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, lower your cholesterol level and blood pressure, and lessen your chances of getting throat and lung cancer, while giving you more energy, clearing your complexion and improving your sex life. Who wants to kiss an ashtray?

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.