Why Heart Patients Should Kick Butts. Part 4

Kelsey’s study found that almost 3 in 5 smokers who undergo surgery for heart disease continue to smoke after their procedure.

“We thought that individuals who needed the operations would have been shaken up enough to stop — but that was not the case for almost 60 percent,” said co-author Bonnie H. Weiner, M.D., medical director of the Center for Research in Invasive and Interventional Cardiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester.

Although medical-staff support may help a smoker quit, it is not as simple as it seems –hospital stays are getting shorter and shorter as medical techniques and technologies improve. “In the past, patients tended to stay in the hospital for at least two weeks, and that gave physicians more opportunity to educate them about the need to quit,” Kelsey said. “Back then they had a captive audience. Today, patients are in and out.”

Nonetheless, physician support of smoking cessation is essential.

“In our cardiac rehabilitation program, we identify smokers as patients that each person on the staff needs to show a bit of extra support for and encourage success,” Keteyian said. “We ‘swing deals’ requesting that they not smoke for five hours before exercising. And, any success is encouraged. All this happens in conjunction with the hospital’s separate smoking intervention program, which all patients are referred to as well.”

Kicking Butts
Even with assistance, though, smoking cessation is tough. Nicotine is a very addictive drug; some people try to quit two or three times before they finally and permanently stop smoking.

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