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What are the possible benefits of quitting smoking?

20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drops. (Mahmud A, Feely J. Effect of Smoking on Arterial Stiffness and Pulse Pressure Amplification. Hypertension. 2003;41:183.)
12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. (US Surgeon General's Report, 1988, p. 202)
2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases. (US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, pp. 193, 194, 196, 285, 323)
1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection. (US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, pp. 285-287, 304)
1 year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker's. (US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, p. vi)
5 years after quitting: Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker 5 to 15 years after quitting. (US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, p. vi)
10 years after quitting: The lung cancer death rate is about half that of a person who continues smoking. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decrease, too. (US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, pp. vi, 131, 148, 152, 155, 164, 166)
15 years after quitting: The risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a non-smoker's. (US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, p. vi)

Here's what happens after you quit smoking:

  • 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • 12 hours after quitting, levels of carbon monoxide in your blood return to normal.
  • 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting, your heart attack risk begins to fall and lung function improves.
  • 1 to 9 months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
  • 1 year after quitting, the added risk of coronary heart disease is half of that of a smoker's.
  • 10 years after quitting, your lung cancer death rate is half of that of a smoker's.
  • 15 years after quitting, your coronary heart disease risk is the same as a nonsmoker's.
It is never too late to reap the benefits of giving up smoking. Quitting lowers your risk of serious complications from cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, stroke, and blockages in your legs (peripheral artery disease).
Stopping smoking promotes the following health benefits: 
  • The risk for a heart attack drops sharply after just 1 year.
  • Stroke risk can fall to about the same as a nonsmoker’s after just 2 to 5 years.
  • Risk for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder is cut in half after 5 years.
  • Risk for dying of lung cancer drops by half after 10 years.
In short, those who quit smoking increase their likelihood of living a longer life. Plus, by quitting, you help protect those around you from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.
The majority of smokers say they want to quit smoking, but it's a lot easier said than done. But it's worth the effort. Within the first few days, months and years of quitting, you'll notice a variety of benefits, from increased lung capacity to greatly reduced risks for heart disease and stroke.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.