It takes smokers’ hearts at least 15 years to recover after quitting cigarettes

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Smokers will have to wait 15 years after quitting for their heart disease and stroke risk to return to a normal level, a new study has found.

Previous studies suggest former smokers’ stroke risk stabilizes within five years, but new research shows it may take triple the time.

The report, which will be presented next week at the American Heart Association conference, is the first to examine the connection in a living cohort.

After analyzing data on 8,700 people spanning 50 years, researchers at Vanderbilt found it takes well over a decade for smokers’ hearts to rid themselves of the life-threatening damage of nicotine, tobacco, and the myriad of other chemicals in cigarettes.

Unfortunately, this is the good news. The heart and blood vessels are the fastest to recover from smoking damage, explains lead author Meredith Duncan, a PhD student at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The lungs are another story entirely.

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