Smoking cessation in old age: Less heart attacks and strokes within five years

February 20, 2013, Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres

Smokers increase their risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke with every cigarette they smoke. Conversely, those who quit smoking even at an advanced age will have a considerable decrease in their risk after a very short time. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) published their results in the European Journal of Epidemiology.

Professor Hermann Brenner and colleagues analyzed the data of 8.807 individuals aged between 50 and 74 years using data of Saarland citizens. "We were able to show that the risk of smokers for cardiovascular diseases is more than twice that of non-smokers. However, former smokers are affected at almost the same low rate as people of the same who never smoked," says Brenner. "Moreover, smokers are affected at a significantly younger age than individuals who have never smoked or have stopped smoking." For example, a 60-year-old smoker has the same risk of myocardial infarction as a 79-year-old non-smoker and the same risk of stroke as a 69-year-old non-smoker. Dose and duration of also have an impact on . The more cigarettes a smoker consumes per day over a prolonged period of time, the higher his or her risk raises.

The study shows that the positive effect of smoking cessation becomes noticeable within a short period of time. "Compared to individuals who continue smoking, the risk of and stroke is reduced by more than 40 percent already within the first five years after the last cigarette," says Carolin Gellert, first author of the study. The results suggest that programs, which have concentrated on younger participants up to now, should be expanded to reach out to older people as well.

Last year, Hermann Brenner and his colleagues had already studied the impact of smoking on the overall mortality of people beyond the age of 60. They had used data from international studies without German participation. In their latest study, they have evaluated data from the so-called ESTHER Study whose participants are from Saarland, a state of Germany. They included those individuals who had not suffered a heart attack or stroke prior to study start and whose health status had been surveyed for up to ten years afterwards. In their evaluation, the scientists also took account of the effects of other factors such as age, gender, alcohol consumption, education and physical exercise as well as blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol levels, body height and weight.

Explore further: By age 45, smokers already at significantly higher risk of cancer death

More information: Carolin Gellert, Ben Schöttker, Heiko Müller, Bernd Holleczek, Hermann Brenner: Impact of smoking and quitting on cardiovascular outcomes and risk advancement periods among older adults. Eur J Epidemiol. 2013. doi: 10.1007/s10654-013-9776-0

Related Stories

By age 45, smokers already at significantly higher risk of cancer death

September 13, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—A new Northwestern Medicine study shows that smoking during your middle-aged years dramatically increases your lifetime risk of not just getting cancer, but dying from it.

Stopping smoking is hard despite success of smoke-free legislation

April 20, 2012
The successful implementation of smokefree legislation in Hong Kong has led to an overall decrease in the total number of smokers but the remaining smokers who are finding it difficult to quit are going on to become "hardcore" ...

Early morning smokers have increased risk of lung and head and neck cancers

August 8, 2011
Two new studies have found that smokers who tend to take their first cigarette soon after they wake up in the morning may have a higher risk of developing lung and head and neck cancers than smokers who refrain from lighting ...

Recommended for you

Marijuana use may not aid patients in opioid addiction treatment

December 4, 2017
Many patients who are being treated for opioid addiction in a medication-assisted treatment clinic use marijuana to help manage their pain and mood symptoms.

For opiate addiction, study finds drug-assisted treatment is more effective than detox

November 23, 2017
Say you're a publicly insured Californian with an addiction to heroin, fentanyl or prescription narcotics, and you want to quit.

Study finds medical cannabis is effective at reducing opioid addiction

November 17, 2017
A new study conducted by researchers at The University of New Mexico, involving medical cannabis and prescription opioid use among chronic pain patients, found a distinct connection between having the legal ability to use ...

Insomnia linked to alcohol-use frequency among early adolescents, says new psychology study

November 8, 2017
Insomnia is linked to frequency of alcohol use among early adolescents, according to new Rutgers University–Camden research.

Large declines seen in teen substance abuse, delinquency

October 25, 2017
More than a decade of data indicates teens have become far less likely to abuse alcohol, nicotine and illicit drugs, and they also are less likely to engage in delinquent behaviors, such as fighting and stealing, according ...

Trying to get sober? NIH offers tool to help find good care

October 3, 2017
The phone calls come—from fellow scientists and desperate strangers—with a single question for the alcohol chief at the National Institutes of Health: Where can my loved one find good care to get sober?

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.