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The benefits of quitting smoking

Quitting smoking after a heart attack can reduce your risk of early death from heart disease. It will also reduce your risk of having another heart attack.

women breaks cigarette

If you've managed to stay off the cigarettes while you've been in hospital recovering from your heart attack, then you've already started to reduce your risk of early death from heart disease or another heart event. It's really important that you stick with it.

But if you haven't managed to quit yet - or you've started again since you came out of hospital - don't stop trying to quit. It is never too late to quit smoking.

Why should I quit now?

Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of another heart attack by 50%. Research has also shown that people who started smoking again after they came out of hospital were more than three times more likely to die within a year, than those who successfully quit.

It doesn't matter whether you're a social smoker or a heavy smoker of many years, stopping smoking will reduce your risk. Some of the benefits to your body happen in the very first day you quit.

Giving up smoking will also benefit your family and friends. Second-hand smoke kills approximately 350 New Zealanders every year. Children exposed to tobacco smoke have a higher risk of developing asthma and other illnesses such as colds, coughs and chest infections. Children of smokers are seven times more likely to become smokers themselves.

When you do give up, you'll find yourself with a lot of extra cash in your wallet. Smoking a pack a day costs you more than $9,000 each year.

How does smoking increase my risk?

Cigarettes and tobacco smoke contain carbon monoxide, nicotine and other chemicals that negatively affect the way your body functions.

Did you know that smoking:

  • Worsens coronary artery disease. It damages the lining of your coronary arteries, restricting blood flow to your heart and priming you for another heart attack. You're also at greater risk of stroke and angina.
  • Makes your blood thicker so it is more likely to clot, which increases your risk of having another heart attack.
  • Decreases the level of oxygen in your blood, forcing your heart to pump harder to make sure enough oxygen gets around your body.
  • Contains nicotine, which causes the production of adrenaline, raising your blood pressure and making your heart beat harder and faster.

Where can I get help?

Talk to your GP or pharmacist about nicotine replacement therapy (such as patches or gum) and tablets to help you stop smoking.

Visit smoking support services such as Quitline or Smokefree New Zealand.

Read our top tips to help you quit smoking.

Find out how to quit smoking

The Health Promotion Agency. Smoking and its effects.

World Health Organisation. Fact sheet about health benefits of smoking cessation.

Furio Colivicchi MD, David Mocini MD, Marco Tubaro MD, Alessandro Aiello MD, Piero Clavario MD, Massimo Santini MD. The American Journal of Cardiology. Volume 108, Issue 6, 15 September 2011, Pages 804-808. Effect of Smoking Relapse on Outcome After Acute Coronary Syndromes.