Having never smoked or having quit more than a year ago is one of the factors that put people in the "ideal" category for heart health, according to the AHA. Smokers are at higher risk for developing health problems such as atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty material in the arteries, which can result in heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Smoking itself is considered to be the most important preventable cause of premature death in this country, the AHA reports.
If you live with another smoker and want to quit, try to persuade him or her to quit, too, advises Clyde Yancy, president of the AHA and medical director at the Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. "The thing that is most important is having a concerned significant other who is providing support," Yancy says. Smokers are usually more successful in quitting if they live with a nonsmoker or "with someone who is also quitting or wants to quit."