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Blog: Heart attack risk lowers 24 hours after you quit smoking


The Cath Lab team at Centegra Hospital-McHenry works with cardiologists every day to save the lives of people who suffer from heart disease. One thing many of their patients have in common is smoking. Many people who have suffered heart attacks learn there is no time like the present to begin improving their health. They learn to eat better, exercise more and they learn how important it is to quit smoking for a second chance at life.

Why should you quit smoking after a heart attack? Continuing to smoke doubles your risk of having a second heart attack. It is never too late to quit. Your heart attack risk is already lowered within 24 hours after quitting.

How does smoking affect your heart?

Smoking works with other heart-related risk factors to increase your risk for another heart attack. Smoking contributes to:

  • Atherosclerosis—by further narrowing your blood vessels and reducing blood supply throughout your body
  • High blood pressure—narrowed blood vessels make the heart work harder, which can also raise your heart rate
  • Increased risk of blood clots—which can cause another heart attack or stroke
  • Lower high-density lipoprotein, or the good type of cholesterol
  • Coronary artery disease after bypass surgery
  • Decreased intolerance for activities, including exercise
  • Other health conditions such as cancer, diabetes and lung disorders

Ready to quit?

If you are ready to quit smoking, talk with your doctor about the best approach for you. Centegra Health System and the McHenry County Department of Health partner to offer Freedom From Smoking, a program that will help you quit smoking. All aspects of smoking and tobacco use are explored through group support and behavior modification. Nicotine replacement products currently on the market are also reviewed. This program is taught by McHenry County Department of Health staff members who have been trained by the American Lung Association to use methods that help people quit for good. Call 877-CENTEGRA to register for Freedom From Smoking.