You probably know that smoking increases your risk of heart disease, cancer and other chronic health problems. But did you know that it can also increase your likelihood of experiencing severe complications after a surgery, particularly after a colorectal procedure?
A new study published in the Annals of Surgery journal revealed that smoking boosts the risk of a variety of health complications following some of the most common colorectal procedures like that for colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. According to the researchers at University of Rochester Medical Center, smokers are more likely to develop pneumonia, kidney failure, and blood clots after surgery. But the good news is that they can reduce such risk if they will stop smoking at least 6 weeks before their scheduled procedure.
Previous research has shown that diagnosis of cancer, or an upcoming major surgery is a time when most smoking patients are motivated to quit. Dr Fergal J. Fleming, the lead researcher of the current study, said physicians should take advantage of these “teachable moments” and encourage patients to undergo a smoking cessation program.
The following were their shocking findings:
- Smokers have 30 percent risk of dying or developing complications after surgery. After accounting other risk factors like the patient’s age, body mass index, alcohol use, and presence of other health conditions, the researchers found that current smokers are still 30 percent more likely to die or develop complications following a colorectal surgery than patients who never smoked.
- Smokers have the highest rate of pneumonia. Current young smokers had the greatest likelihood of developing pneumonia and infection. They were also more likely to return to the operating room, and had much longer stay in the hospital after surgery.
- Long-time smokers were even at greater risk. The researchers also found that patients who have long history of smoking had even higher risks of all complications. Mortality rates were also significantly higher among patients who had smoked an average of 2 packs a day for more than 30 years.
This is not the first time that smoking has been linked to surgery complications. Numerous studies have shown that smoking impedes recovery from surgery and exposes patients to life-threatening health complications. In 2010, researchers at Cleveland Clinic revealed that smokers are 57 percent more likely to suffer from cardiac arrest, 80 percent more likely to have a heart attack, and 73 percent more likely to have a stroke following a major surgery. They also have higher levels of pain.
All these scientific facts suggest that a critical aspect towards a successful surgery is ensuring that the patient is not a smoker, or has already quit several weeks or months prior the scheduled procedure. If you or someone you know is about to undergo surgery, it is time that you consider quitting smoking today. Not only will it increase your chance of surviving a surgery. Stopping smoking now will also improve the overall quality of your life and health.