(NBC News) – Heavy smokers can reduce their risk of heart disease within years of dropping the habit.
Vanderbilt researchers studied 60 years of data from nearly 9,000 people including those who smoked a pack a day for 20 years.
They found that within five years of quitting smoking the risk for heart disease dropped by 39-percent.
However, it takes at least five years and possibly as much as 25 years for the risk to be as low as a non-smoker.
According to scientists, cigarette smoking is responsible for 20-percent of heart disease deaths.