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12-03-2013 | General practice | Article

Quitting smoking best for CV health

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medwireNews: GPs can reassure patients that the cardiovascular benefits of quitting smoking are not cancelled out by any associated weight gain, research shows.

A study published in JAMA shows that the risk of coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular events, peripheral artery disease and congestive heart failure in both recent and long-term quitters without diabetes was more than halved compared with those who continued to smoke.

Patients without diabetes who quit within the past 4 years gained a median of 2.7 kg in weight over that time, compared with 0.9 kg in smokers and never smokers. But adjusting for this weight increase did not significantly alter the reduction in cardiovascular risk in recent quitters, say Dr Carole Clair (University of Lausanne, Switzerland) and co-authors.

A similar benefit from quitting smoking was also seen in patients with diabetes, who gained an average 3.6 kg in weight within 4 years of cessation, although the cardiovascular risk reduction did not reach statistical significance.

Commenting in an editorial, Drs Michael Fiore and Timothy Baker, from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, USA, say that the findings may reassure the half of female smokers and the quarter of male smokers concerned about their weight, and who may be deterred from quit attempts.

Noting that exercise and nicotine replacement treatment may help combat weight gain while patients quit smoking , the editorialists emphasize that the most important message is that "every smoker should be encouraged to quit smoking and given support to do so."

By Lynda Williams, Senior medwireNews Reporter