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Quit smoking to heal arteries

Cigarette smokers have stiffer arteries than those who do not smoke. But these adverse blood vessel changes are reversible with smoking cessation.

Quit smoking to heal arteries

Cigarette smokers have stiffer arteries than those who do not smoke. But these adverse blood vessel changes are reversible with smoking cessation. Researchers from the Trinity College Dublin, Ireland found that smoking is a major risk factor not only for lung disease and cancer but also for heart attack, stroke and heart failure. It's been shown that smoking a single cigarette, exposure to passive or second-hand smoke, and chronic smoking, all lead to stiffer arteries, which may prevent the arteries from expanding when muscles, including the heart, demand more oxygen. Stiff arteries put increased strain on the heart, often leading to high blood pressure. The researchers compared differences in arterial stiffness among 150 current smokers, 136 ex-smokers and 268 non-smokers. They categorised ex-smokers according to how long they were off cigarettes - under 1 year, more than 1 but less than 10 years and more than 10 years of smoking cessation. It was found that current and ex-smokers since 1 year had significantly stiffer arteries than non-smokers. In ex-smokers, duration of smoking cessation was directly related to arterial stiffness. There was some improvement after 1 to 10 years off cigarettes, but arterial stiffness parameters only reached normal levels after more than a decade without cigarettes. The findings reinforce the message for smokers to stop smoking to enhance the quality and length of their lives. The study shows both the unhealthy effects of smoking and the benefit of smoking cessation on the blood vessels.
Hypertension,
March 2007
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