If a Longtime Smoker Quits, Does It Matter?

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One of the things that you can do to improve your heart health is to stop smoking, if you smoke, and to never start if you don't. There's no cell in your body that likes smoke. Every cell can be damaged by smoke of any kind. Sometimes people ask me, you know, I've been smoking for so long. Should I stop smoking?

And the answer is absolutely. The minute you stop smoking, your body goes into repair mode to restore some of the damage that smoking, even if it's for a short period of time, has done. We know from a heart standpoint that if you stop smoking, in about a year, 50% decrease in your risk of developing heart disease. So this is big. This is huge.

So a lot of people concentrate only on lung problems when they think about smoking, but that's just a very small part of the puzzle. And because heart disease is the number one killer, it's really the heart and the blood vessels that get damaged the most. Smoking is the number one preventable cause of heart disease and death in America. Therefore, if you stop smoking, we know we can reduce your risk for heart disease. We know we can reduce your risk for lung cancer and reduce your risk for all of the other problems associated with smoking.

One of the things that people don't understand about smoking of any kind is that it actually is corroding and ravaging the inside of your blood vessel. And what we know about the inside of a blood vessel is it's not just protective. It's really the gateway to plaque formation. If you damage the inside of your blood vessels, you develop more plaque. Smoke does that. The minute you inhale smoke, and it gets into your bloodstream, you're damaging your blood vessels, and you're starting the process of plaque formation. Plaque formation leads to heart attack and stroke.