Nine hundred and seventy eight patients admitted with a first myocardial infarction or episode of unstable angina were studied to determine for how long after they gave up smoking did the risk in ex-smokers continue to resemble those of current smokers. Logistic regression was used to calculate a score, based on a combination of age, cholesterol, and hypertension, that separated current smokers from lifetime non-smokers. When this function was applied to ex-smokers, only those who had given up at least 15 years before the attack had a risk factor profile similar to that of non-smokers. Those who had given up less than five years before the ischaemic attack had a significantly higher level of other risk factors than current smokers; those who had stopped for between five and 15 years had levels similar to those of current smokers. Ex-smokers are at higher risk of acute coronary disease for at least 15 years after stopping, but some immediate reduction in risk is possible.
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