“Previous studies have shown the association between quitting and reduced CVD risk. But the current Atherosclerotic CVD Risk Calculator, which is routinely used in clinical practice, considers former smokers’ risk to be similar to that of never smokers after five years of cessation, which is not consistent with these findings,” said Meredith Duncan, lead author of the study and a researcher at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Using the Framingham Heart Study, an ongoing cardiology cohort study of residents from Framingham, Massachusetts, researchers were able to analyze data of 8,770 participants, with an average age of 42, gathered from 1954 to 2014. In this data, a determination as to the impact of lifetime smoking and smoking cessation on the risk of developing CVD was established and then compared to non-smokers.
“Our team leveraged this unique opportunity to document what happens to CVD risk after quitting smoking relative to people who continued to smoke and to those who never smoked,” said Duncan.
According to the findings, former heavy cigarette smokers saw a drastically lower risk of cardiovascular disease within five years of smoking cessation. The risk of CVD, however, remained elevated possibly for up to 25 years after cessation compared to non-smokers.
“Among heavy smokers, smoking cessation was associated with significantly lower risk of CVD within 5 years relative to current smokers. However, relative to never smokers, former smokers’ CVD risk remained significantly elevated beyond 5 years after smoking cessation,” the findings conclude.