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Counseling Can Help Smokers Quit Before Surgery

Update Date: Aug 23, 2013 10:40 AM EDT
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Even though doctors would prefer that patients quit smoking all together, getting them to quit a few weeks before surgery, even if it is temporary, is a very important short-term goal. Since there are a lot of risks involved with invasive surgeries, preventing these risks is a very important task. One way to lower a patient's risk is to get them to stop their smoking habit starting a few weeks before their procedure. Previous studies have found that smokers are more likely to deal with complications such as heart attacks, excessive bleeding, strokes, and pneumonia during and after surgeries. In a new study, researchers reported that an effective way to help patients quit is to provide smoking cessation aids, such as counseling and nicotine patches.

Based on new findings from a research team at the University of Western Ontario, the researchers reported that there are effective ways in helping patients quit smoking before an invasive surgery. The researchers looked at 84 patients at St. Joseph's Hospital in London, Ontario. The researchers examined the effects of providing patients with five minutes of counseling with a nurse, free nicotine patches offered at least three weeks prior to the surgery, a quit-smoking brochure and a referral to quit-smoking hotline number.

"We really tried to simplify the amount of extra work the hospital would have to do," Dr. Susan Lee, the lead author of the study, said according to NPR. Lee is a clinical instructor in anesthesiology at the University of California San Francisco.

The researchers found that overall, 14 percent of the patients who were given some form of smoking cessation advice successfully quit smoking before their surgeries. For patients who did not receive any help at all, only around four percent were able to quit. After one month post surgery, the researchers found that 29 percent of the patients who received help self-reported that they stopped smoking all together. Only about 11 percent of the people in the group that received no help at all stated that they quit smoking for good.  

Despite this finding that people who quit smoking before surgeries fared better, the researchers acknowledged the fact that screening patients and giving them enough time to quit smoking before a surgery can be very difficult. The study was published in the journal, Anesthesia and Analgesia

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