Quitting Smoking Has Major Cardiovascular Benefits Despite Weight Gain

9:56 AM, Mar 14, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON D.C. (WUSA9) -- A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that people who quit smoking, even despite weight gain, maintain all cardiovascular benefits associated with quitting smoking.

Carole Clair, M.D. M.Sc., of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and James B. Meigs, M.D., M.P.H. of Massachusetts General Hospital and colleagues conducted a study to, "assess the association between a four year weight gain following smoking cessation and cardiovascular disease (CVD) event rate among adults with and without diabetes." 

Recent quitters, long-term quitters, nonsmokers and smokers were observed for a follow-up of 25 years. 631 cardiovascular disease incidences occurred among 3,251 participants.

The authors write,"Weight gain that occurred following smoking cessation was not associated with a reduction in the benefits of quitting smoking on CVD risk among adults without diabetes."

The study also notes, that while weight gain is a huge detriment, exercise and nicotine replacement can help offset the effects. And althouh many would rather delay quitting smoking because of this effect on their appearance, the benefits are well worth it.

Dr. James B. Meigs, M.D. M.P.H., of Massachusetts General Hospital says to the American Medical Association, "Among people who quit smoking regardless of the weight gain, they were about half as likely to have a heart attack or a stroke or die from heart attack over six years of observation."

Henry Mittleman smoked for 35 years but knew that it was time to quit, after he was up to three and a half packs of cigarettes every day. After 20 years of not smoking with his weight now under control, his outlook is positive.

"It's not magical. It's something that I did with a lot of help and right now I can look anybody in the face and say I'll be around," Mittelman told the American Medical Association.  



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