The quest to achieve a healthy heart comes with sacrifices. Other than changing your diet and exercising regularly, you also have to get rid of certain habits that can be detrimental to your heart. If you are a habitual smoker, it is advisable that you kick the habit as soon as you can, because smoking can cause serious damage to your cardiovascular health.
There are actually two ways in which smoking can affect the heart. In the short term, it can cause your pulse rate to rise and make the platelets in your blood stickier. This will increase the risk of blood clot formation, and consequently, your chances of having a stroke. In the long run, smoking can increase plaque buildup in your arteries and cause atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis may in turn lead to peripheral arterial disease, which can cause severe pain in the legs and affect your mobility.
Even if you have been smoking for many years, it is never too late to stop. The heart healthy benefits of quitting smoking will begin almost immediately after you stub out your final cigarette.
- Minutes after you kick the habit, your heart will experience less stress.
- After 20 minutes, you will have a lower heart rate.
- 12 hours later, the amount of carbon monoxide in your blood will return to normal.
- After a few months, you will have healthier lungs and lower risk of heart attack.
- One year after you stop smoking, you will be 50% less susceptible to heart disease.
- After quitting for 5 to 15 years, your risk of stroke will be the same as that of a lifelong non-smoker.
- If you can stay smoke-free for more than 15 years, you will be just as unlikely to get heart disease as a non-smoker.