"Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, but in many cases it is preventable through lifestyle modification," Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, a cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and medical director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute's Center for Preventive Cardiology, says in a statement.
"Many of the most common New Year's resolutions, such as losing weight or quitting smoking, are essential to fighting heart disease. Not only are these changes good for your heart, but they benefit your overall health."
Quitting smoking is crucial to improving overall health and preventing premature death because smokers are prone to a number of chronic health conditions, including atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
The benefits of quitting are immediate, with blood pressure dropping within 20 minutes of one's last cigarette.
Swim Week Miami Beach 2014 [PHOTOS]