If you've been thinking about quitting smoking, there's no time like the present pandemic.
With the novel coronavirus sweeping the globe, the science on quitting smoking offers welcome news for smokers who want to build up their defenses in case they contract Covid-19.
Though it may still take many months for a smoker's lungs to heal from damage caused by long-term smoking, your health can noticeably improve in the days and weeks after quitting in ways that could make a difference against the virus.
Although you can't reverse scarring to your lungs caused by smoking, there are a number of ways your lung health can improve in the short term, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Respiratory failure is a common cause of death
For those who are diagnosed with Covid-19 and either fall seriously ill or die from it, respiratory failure or significant lung damage is common.
According to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report through March 28, 78% of US Covid-19 cases requiring intensive care unit admission came from patients who self-reported a recognized risk factor or a diagnosis of at least one underlying medical condition.
Current or former smoking status was among the shortlist of risk factors, along with other traits known to put people at risk for respiratory illness, including pregnancy.
The most commonly reported underlying conditions included diabetes, chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, and immune compromised conditions.
Quitting smoking helps with blood circulation
Besides lung-related issues, smoking cessation can also deliver healthy benefits to the heart that could help stave off the possibility of cardiac arrest. Heart attacks are another cause of death in Covid-19 cases.
After you quit smoking, your blood becomes thinner and less susceptible to clotting, the CDC says. Heart attacks are less likely.
One reason this happens is because smokers inhale carbon monoxide, and thereby diminish their capacity to carry oxygen and make it harder for the heart to distribute blood throughout the body.
"There is the occasional patient with Covid who dies from heart failure," Christman says. He noted that in some cases, clinicians were seeing patients with elevated levels of troponins -- a sign of heart attack that can be triggered by a severe infection.
You may already be practicing social distancing, washing your hands frequently and avoiding touching your face. In addition to all these, limiting or quitting smoking is yet another important aspect of your anti-coronavirus arsenal.
"Now is the time to take care of yourself," Christman said