If you’ve been smoking for a while, you might wonder if quitting’s even worth it. Maybe the cravings and nicotine withdrawal just turn you off to the whole idea.
You might think to yourself, “The damage is done, so does it really make a difference?” The answer is yes it does!
Your body has a fantastic ability to heal itself, and it happens quicker than you think — less than half an hour after you put out that last cigarette.
Kicking the tobacco habit offers some beneficial rewards that you’ll notice right away and some that will show up over time. Here is a timeline of how your body begins to reverse the damage once you quit.
According to the American Heart Association and the U.S. Surgeon General, this is how your body starts to recover when you quit smoking:
20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate drops.
Cigarettes raise your blood pressure and increase your heart rate. Your heart rate will begin to drop to normal levels within 20 minutes of your last cigarette.
8 to 12 hours after quitting, your blood carbon monoxide level drops.
Carbon monoxide causes your heart rate to increase and causes shortness of breath. Within 8 to 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops, and your blood oxygen increases.
48 hours after quitting, your ability to smell and taste improves.
The nerve endings damaged by smoking begin to regrow, improving your sense of smell and taste.
2 weeks to 3 months after quitting, your risk of heart attack drops.
Improved circulation, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and better oxygen levels and lung function all reduce your risk of a heart attack.
1 to 9 months after quitting, you’ll feel less short of breath and cough less.
Coughing, shortness of breath and sinus congestion will decrease. You’ll feel more energetic overall.
1 year after quitting, your risk of heart disease will be cut in half.
Smoking significantly increases your risk of heart disease.
5 years after quitting, your risk of stroke decreases.
Depending on how much and how long you smoked and your overall health, your risk of stroke will be the same as someone who’s never smoked within 5 to 15 years of quitting.
10 years after quitting, your risk of lung cancer drops to that of someone who’s never smoked.
Your risk of dying from lung cancer will be that of a person who’s never smoked. Your chance of developing other cancers decreases significantly.
15 years after quitting, your risk of heart disease is the same as someone who’s never smoked.
After you quit, you’ll have lower cholesterol, thinner blood (which reduces your risk of blood clots), and lower blood pressure.
Quitting tobacco is one of the most difficult challenges you will face. It’s also one of the most rewarding. Quitting smoking is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Imagine what you can do with the extra money you’ll save from no longer buying cigarettes! In the beginning, the road ahead may seem impossible, but remember that many others have been where you are today and have succeeded. You can join them!
Reward yourself or consider the physical activities that will become easier for your body once you’ve quit for good. Make a list of ways you’ll reward yourself and use them as motivation throughout your journey.
Talk to your Doctor Working with a health care provider can increase your chances of quitting smoking for good compared to trying to stop on your own. Any health care provider you trust (whether they are a physician, dentist, medical assistant, physician assistant, nurse, dental assistant, etc.) can provide valuable support.
Catholic Health Services is committed to the health and safety of our patients, residents, guests, and team members. One of the most significant contributors to serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, and cancer is smoking, and second-hand smoke.
Beginning February 1st, all Catholic Health Services facilities and campuses will officially be smoke-free. With a mission to improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve, we believe that we have a responsibility to address this major health issue, by educating our communities and ensuring that our environment is safe for everyone.