Quitting smoking could give smokers with heart disease five more years of life

10th May 2022

A new study reveals that smokers who have suffered from heart disease could gain five healthy years by quitting.

Habitual smokers run an increased risk of developing heart disease compared to non-smokers. Dutch cardiologists claim the benefits of giving up smoking are bigger than previously thought. Quitting smoking “adds the same number of heart disease-free years to life as three preventive medications combined”. That is, kicking the habit is potentially the most effective measure for preventing another stroke or heart attack.

The findings, presented at a congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), were based on a study that used data from 989 patients aged 45 and older who persisted smoking for more than six months after acute coronary syndrome (e.g., a heart attack) or bypass surgery.

The researchers found that the estimated benefit of quitting smoking appeared to be comparable to that for those who are put on a multi-medical regime. The researchers also calculated the expected gain in healthy years if patients continued smoking but took three additional medications to prevent cardiovascular disease. Kicking the habit of smoking resulted in a gain of 4.81 event-free years while the multi-medical regime provided a gain of 4.83 event-free years.

“This indicates that smoking cessation is a very important step towards adding healthy years to one’s lifetime,” said Dr. Van Trier.

Results support the case for harm reduction

The findings suggest smokers with heart disease who quit or switch to smokeless nicotine products are likely to experience major health benefits. The study thus provides strong support for harm reduction. It shows that smokers with heart disease could gain five more healthy years by quitting, an effect comparable to that of three preventive medications combined. This emphasizes the importance of enabling sales of safer products, as attractive alternatives are important in encouraging smokers to switch and subsequently decrease smoking rates.

Despite this and other evidence demonstrating the health benefits of nicotine pouches and other smokeless tobacco products compared to cigarettes, the World Health Organization continues to ignore harm reduction as a tool for fighting tobacco-related deaths.