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Better outcomes for smokers who quit prior to surgery

Tuesday January 21st, 2020

Tobacco smokers who quit their habit four week or more before surgery reduce their risk of complications and tend to have better outcomes after six months, a new study has revealed.

The research by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the University of Newcastle, Australia and the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA), shows that every tobacco-free week after four weeks improves health outcomes by 19%, due to improved blood flow to essential organs.

It also found that patients who stop smoking tobacco are less likely to experience complications following surgery with anaesthesia compared to smokers who continue.

Smoking tobacco is defined as any tobacco - including all cigarettes, cigars, hookahs, second-hand smoke, and snuff/chewing tobacco.

Dr Vinayak Prasad, Head of Unit, No Tobacco, WHO, said: “The report provides evidence that there are advantages to postponing minor or non-emergency surgery to give patients the opportunity to quit smoking, resulting in a better health outcome.”

The report says that the nicotine and carbon monoxide that are in cigarettes can decrease oxygen levels and increase the risk of heart-related complications post-surgery. Because smoking tobacco damages the lungs, less air flows through, which increases the risk of post-surgical complications to the lungs.

There is also a risk of delayed healing because smoking distorts the immune system and can lead to infection at the wound site. Even smoking one cigarette reduces the body’s capacity to deliver necessary nutrients for healing after surgery.

Dr Shams Syed, Coordinator, Quality of Care, WHO, added: “Complications after surgery present a large burden for both the health care provider and the patient.

“Primary care physicians, surgeons, nurses and families are important in supporting a patient to quit smoking at every stage of care, especially before an operation.”

Yoong SL, Tursan d’Espaignet E, Wiggers J et al. WHO tobacco knowledge summaries: tobacco and postsurgical outcomes.

Tags: Australia | Drug & Alcohol Abuse | World Health

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