Smokers With Heart Disease Could Gain 4.81 Healthy Years by Quitting, Study Results Show

Analysis indicates that quitting provides roughly the same benefit as taking 3 medications together.

Smoking cessation adds the same number of heart disease-free years to life as 3 preventive medications combined, according to research results presented at the European Society of Cardiology Preventive Cardiology 2022.

“Our study shows that kicking the habit appears to be as effective as taking 3 medications for preventing heart attacks and strokes in those with a prior heart attack or procedure to open blocked arteries. Patients could gain nearly 5 years of healthy life,” Tinka Van Trier, MD, PhD, of Amsterdam University Medical Centre, said in a statement.

“This analysis focused on smokers who had experienced a heart attack and/or undergone stent implantation or bypass surgery,” Van Trier said.

this group is at high risk of having another heart attack or stroke, with smoking cessation proving to be the most effective preventive action, she said.

The study included 989 individuals, aged 45 years and older, who were still smoking at least 6 months after having a heart attack and/or undergoing stent implantation or bypass surgery. The average age was aged 60 years, and 23% were women.

The individuals were treated with standard preventive medications, including antiplatelets, blood pressure-lowering drugs, and statins.

The median time since a heart attack or procedure was 1.2 years.

Investigators used the SMART-REACH model to estimate the gain in healthy years, defined as years without a heart attack or stroke, if the individual quit smoking. They also calculated the gain in healthy years if individuals continued smoking but took 3 additional drugs to prevent cardiovascular disease.

The 3 medications included bempedoic acid and PCK9 inhibitors, which lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and colchicine, an anti-inflammatory therapy.

Investigators found that the estimated benefit of quitting smoking was comparable to using all 3 pharmaceutical treatments. Smoking cessation resulted in a gain of 4.81 event-free years, while the 3 medications together provided a gain of 4.83 event-free years.

“This indicates that smoking cessation is a very important step toward adding healthy years to one’s lifetime,” Van Trier, said in the statement. “It is important to remember that the analysis did not even account for the other advantages of giving up the habit, for example, on respiratory illnesses, cancer, and longevity.”

Smoking cessation is the best way to prevent heart attacks and strokes, as well as improve overall health at any time, including after a heart attack and at any age, Van Trier said.

She noted that cigarette smoking is responsible for approximately 50% of avoidable deaths in smokers, with half the deaths because of cardiovascular disease.

Smoking cessation after a heart attack is linked to an improved survival rate, compared with persistent smoking, Van Trier said.

“If you are considering becoming smoke-free or would like more information about it, please talk to a health professional. Your motivation is key to successfully quitting, but beating an addiction becomes easier with medical and psychological assistance,” Van Trier said .

Reference

Smokers with heart disease could gain five healthy years by quitting. EurekAlert. News release. April 7, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/948779