Quitting isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth the effort—regardless of how long you’ve smoked or how old you are. Even people 65 and older who quit smoking can extend their life expectancy.
Experts say that smokers at any age who quit enjoy the following health benefits:
• 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure decrease.
• 12 hours after quitting, levels of nicotine and carbon monoxide in the blood drop to normal, and your senses of taste and smell return to normal.
• 24 hours after quitting, your chance of having a heart attack decreases.
• 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting, your circulation and lung function improve by up to 30 percent.
• 1 month to 9 months after quitting, coughing, shortness of breath, sinus congestion and fatigue decrease as lung function returns to normal; fertility improves as the quality of a man’s sperm improves and a woman’s chance of conceiving increases; and the likelihood of miscarriage or having a baby with low birth weight decreases.
• 1 year after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker.
• 5 years after quitting, your risk of stroke is similar to that of a nonsmoker.
• 10 years after quitting, your risk of death from lung cancer is about half the risk of someone who continues to smoke.
• 15 years after quitting, your risk of coronary artery disease is similar to that of a nonsmoker.
If you’re struggling with withdrawal symptoms and finding it hard to quit, or if you’ve quit in the past and then started smoking again, don’t give up. Keep trying, and ask your doctor for help or consider enrolling in a smoking cessation program.
CT Scanning to Detect Lung Cancer
Early detection of lung cancer provides the best chance for full recovery. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends computed tomography (CT) lung cancer screenings for people ages 55-74 who have a 30-pack-year history of smoking (meaning, for example, they have smoked one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years).
Many insurance companies cover low-dose CT screening at no cost to the patient. Other healthcare insurers, as well as Medicare, may have their own eligibility guidelines in addition to those of the ACS. If you’re interested in the screening, talk to your primary care doctor.
For more information, or to schedule a low-dose CT lung cancer screening, contact:
• Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, Charlottesville: 434-654-4487
•Sentara RMH Medical Center, Harrisonburg: 844-327-5939