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Quitting Smoking After Heart Attack Cuts Death Risk

Survival benefit begins within one month of attack, study finds

FRIDAY, Feb 25, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- It's never too late to quit smoking: A new study finds smokers who quit after a heart attack gain an immediate drop in their risk of death.

The study, involving more than 16,000 smokers admitted to the hospital for heart attack, found smokers who received in-hospital counseling to kick their habit significantly reduced their chances of dying in the first 30 days, 60 days and up to one year following the attacks.

While experts have long known that quitting smoking after heart attack reduces risks for a second heart attack and death, the fact that this effect takes hold so quickly -- within 30 days -- is a new finding, said study author Dr. Thomas K. Houston, a researcher at the Birmingham VA Medical Center in Birmingham, Ala. Previous studies have only been able to find evidence for a reduction in death risk over the first year following a heart attack.

Not every smoker will kick the habit of course, even after heart attack. But Houston believes these findings support the idea of mandating a "no-smoking" period for all hospital patients recovering from heart attack, and to strongly urge the patient to continue quitting for as long as he or she can once they leave the hospital.

"In those patients unwilling to quit for good, [the strategy] would be to recommend, at a minimum, to maintain the in-hospital mandated smoking deprivation for a brief period after discharge," he said.

The findings are reported in the February issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about smoking and heart disease.

SOURCES: The American Journal of Medicine, news release, Feb. 22, 2005
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