The factor: In case you haven’t heard, smoking kills. Even more surprising: This Italian study found that people who go back to smoking following a heart attack are more likely to croak than patients who quit permanently.
The not-so-obvious: Even though it’s well-established that smoking increases the risk of a second heart attack and death, researchers wanted to find out how many people do it anyway, and just how likely they are to drop dead because of it. What the study found: a shocking two-thirds of heart attack patients picked up their habit again; which made them three to five times more likely to die within a year of the heart attack.
The takeaway: By quantifying these numbers, researchers hope to give patients statistics that scare them into quitting — because being hospitalized for a heart attack clearly isn’t frightening enough.