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Quitting smoking may improve cholesterol test scores

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Individuals who quit smoking may be able to significantly improve their levels of good cholesterol, according to a new study published in the American Heart Journal.

Good cholesterol, or HDL, plays a vital role in the maintenance of good cardiovascular health. It has been shown to sweep buildups of bad cholesterol out of the veins and into the liver where it can be processed. Individuals with low levels of good cholesterol may be at a much higher risk of heart attack, stroke and death.

For the study, researchers from the University of Wisconsin studied a group of 1,500 smokers for a period of one year. They found that those who were able to stay tobacco-free for this period experienced an average 5 percent increase in HDL levels.

Despite the fact that most of the participants who quit put on weight after giving up tobacco, researchers said that the heart health benefits outweigh the potential harm from putting on extra pounds.

"It is important to counsel quitters about weight gain and the need for a healthy diet and regular exercise during the quitting period," said Adam Gepner, who led the study.

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