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Quit Smoking Found to Improve Survival Following Heart Attack


As 2010 approaches, encourage yourself, your loved one, or a friend to quit smoking. Even if previous attempts have failed, try again. It is never too late to quit smoking.

Dr. Yariv Gerber and colleagues from Tel Aviv University have published a new study in the Journal of American Cardiology which shows that heart attack survivors who manage to quit smoking live longer than those who continue to smoke.

The study included 1,521 consecutive patients 65 years of age, discharged from 8 hospitals in central Israel after their first acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in 1992 to 1993. The patients were then followed through 2005.

At the time of their first AMI, 27 % had never smoked, 20% were former smokers, and more than half were current smokers. After discharge from the hospital, the majority of smokers tried to quit. Of those, 35% managed to remain continuously abstinent over the next 10 to 13 years.

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Of the initial 1,521, 427 patients died during the 13-year study period. The risk of death was greatest among those who had continued to smoke. This held true even with other factors like obesity, exercise habits, education and income, and overall health taken into account.

The researchers found that those who had never smoked had a 43% lower risk of dying compared to the persistent smokers. Those who quit smoking after their first AMI had a 37% lower risk of dying compared to persistent smokers.

Those who continued to smoke were noted to have an improved risk of dying with each reduction of 5 cigarettes smoked daily by an 18% decline in mortality risk.

"Smokers who have had a heart attack should be provided with appropriate interventions to help them quit," write Dr. Yariv Gerber and colleagues from Tel Aviv University.


Smoking Status and Long-Term Survival After First Acute Myocardial Infarction: A Population-Based Cohort Study; J Am Coll Cardiol, 2009; 54:2382-2387, doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2009.09.020