Age at quitting smoking as a predictor of risk of cardiovascular disease incidence independent of smoking status, time since quitting and pack-years
Department of Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria 3004, Australia
BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:39 doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-39Published: 15 February 2011
Risk prediction for CVD events has been shown to vary according to current smoking status, pack-years smoked over a lifetime, time since quitting and age at quitting. The latter two are closely and inversely related. It is not known whether the age at which one quits smoking is an additional important predictor of CVD events. The aim of this study was to determine whether the risk of CVD events varied according to age at quitting after taking into account current smoking status, lifetime pack-years smoked and time since quitting.
We used the Cox proportional hazards model to evaluate the risk of developing a first CVD event for a cohort of participants in the Framingham Offspring Heart Study who attended the fourth examination between ages 30 and 74 years and were free of CVD. Those who quit before the median age of 37 years had a risk of CVD incidence similar to those who were never smokers. The incorporation of age at quitting in the smoking variable resulted in better prediction than the model which had a simple current smoker/non-smoker measure and the one that incorporated both time since quitting and pack-years. These models demonstrated good discrimination, calibration and global fit. The risk among those quitting more than 5 years prior to the baseline exam and those whose age at quitting was prior to 44 years was similar to the risk among never smokers. However, the risk among those quitting less than 5 years prior to the baseline exam and those who continued to smoke until 44 years of age (or beyond) was two and a half times higher than that of never smokers.
Age at quitting improves the prediction of risk of CVD incidence even after other smoking measures are taken into account. The clinical benefit of adding age at quitting to the model with other smoking measures may be greater than the associated costs. Thus, age at quitting should be considered in addition to smoking status, time since quitting and pack-years when counselling individuals about their cardiovascular risk.