More than a third of patients who took part in an eight-week smoking cessation programme before and after planned surgery were able to give up and most of them were still smoke free after a year, according to new research.
They also experienced half as many complications after surgery as the patients who did not receive help to give up smoking, with 21 per cent experiencing problems as opposed to 41 per cent.
Researchers randomly assigned 117 patients who were due to undergo general or orthopaedic surgery to an intervention and control group.
“The intervention group attended weekly meetings or received telephone support and were provided with free nicotine replacement therapy, while the control group just received standard pre-operative care” says lead author Dr Omid Sadr Azodi from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.
“Patients were then assessed at regular intervals before and after surgery and after 12 months.
“One interesting thing to emerge from the study was the high refusal rate. A further 76 patients declined to take part in our research because they were unwilling to give up smoking or were stressed by their forthcoming surgery.”
Key findings from the study included:
As well as the medical condition they were receiving surgery for, 15 per cent suffered from depression, 12 per cent from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, nine per cent from chronic heart disease and two per cent from diabetes.
“Smokers are prone to developing a number of complications after surgery, ranging from impaired wound and bone healing to life-threatening pulmonary and cardiovascular problems” says Dr Sadr Azodi. “This is why it is so important to find feasible, financially attractive and effective ways to help patients stop smoking before surgery.
“Our study shows that providing support in the run up to surgery enabled a third of the patients who took part in the study to remain smoke free after a year.
“Lower nicotine dependence levels were significantly associated with long-term abstinence and we believe that high levels should be classed as a chronic disorder. Our intervention was for a fairly intense eight-week period, but we recognise that people with higher levels of dependency may need longer to help them stop smoking before surgery.”
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