Smoking is a major risk factor for fatal vascular diseases such as stroke or myocardial infarction. However, half of the patients suffering from these diseases are still unable to quit smoking, Samsung Medical Center삼성서울병원 (SMC) said Friday.
As the recurrence rate of a stroke within the first five years since the diagnosis can be as high as 40 percent, patients who continue to smoke will push themselves into worse situations, the hospital said.
|Professors Kim Hyun-soon, Shin Dong-wook, and Im Yoo-kyung|
A group of researchers, led by Professors Shin Dong-wook신동욱 from SMC, Kim Hyun-sook김현숙 from Shinhan University신한대학교, and Im Yoo-kyung임유경 from the Seoul National University Hospital서울대병원, have analyzed 1,700 people suffering from cerebrovascular diseases for 10 years from 2003 to 2012 based on the National Health Insurance Service국민건강보험 sample cohort data.
According to the researchers, 486 patients, or 28.6 percent, smoked before the diagnosis of their diseases. Among smokers, 342 or 70.4 percent had a stroke, and 134 or 27.6 patient suffered a coronary artery disease, which is the cause of myocardial infarction. The remaining 10 cases were suffering the two together.
Surprisingly, the smoking rate among the patients did not go down drastically, even after the onset of the disease. The rate only fell from 28.6 percent to 16.3 percent, showing that almost half of the smoking patients have failed to kick the habit.
In detail, of the 486 patients who smoked, 240 or 49.4 percent did not stop smoking. In particular, those who smoked more than half pack a day for more than 30 years were more likely to smoke continuously, the hospital said.
Some patients even resumed the bad habit. Of the 194 patients who successfully stopped smoking before the onset of their diseases, 13 or 6.7 percent smoked again. Twenty-four patients who had never smoked cigarettes were found to have smoked for the first time since the onset of the disease.
The start of the cigarette smoking among some patients seems to have come from depression or sense of loss after the onset of the cardiovascular disease, the researchers said. In general, patients with a heart disease tend to have 2-3 times higher chance of suffering depression than others without it.
The researchers emphasized the need for active interventions to prevent the patients from touching a cigarette again after treatment.
Patients who continue to smoke have a low commitment to healthcare and do not usually follow doctors’ advice, which is why they need help to quit smoking, the researchers said.
"People easily assume that if you experience a fatal vascular disease such as a stroke or myocardial infarction, you will have a major change in your lifestyle,” said Professor Shin. "As many patients still continue to smoke, medical staffs should educate them about the importance of smoking cessation and provide them with proper therapy.”
Recently, the health insurance corporation has provided support for smoking cessation treatment on the outpatient basis, but it is not activated for patients with cancer or cerebrovascular disease, said Professor Kim.
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