Nurses and other health professionals are being urged to encourage patients to give up tobacco before undergoing surgery.
The call comes with a new World Health Organization Tobacco Knowledge Summary, led by the University of Newcastle (UNE) and the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists, which held that quitting approximately four weeks before surgery lowers risks of complication and yields better results six months post-operation.
For each additional week the patient completely avoided smoking, they showed a 19 per cent improved outcome after surgery.
UNE Associate Professor Edouard Tursan D'Espaignet said the better results are tied to improved blood flow throughout the body.
“The healing process after surgery requires the body to use increased amounts of oxygen and nutrients,” Tursan D'Espaignet said. “Smoking just one cigarette can reduce the body’s blood flow and ability to deliver necessary nutrients for this healing.”
He added that second-hand smoke and smokeless tobacco can also cause adverse outcomes after surgery.
Associate Professor Luke Wolfenden, also from UNE, said smoking also distorts a patient’s immune system and the body’s response to wounds. “A smoker’s body may take longer to heal a wound which can increase risk of infection at the wound site.
“Overall, a patient’s heart, lungs, and wound site are all at a greater risk when they smoke cigarettes.”
Tursan D'Espaignet said surgeons, anaesthesiologists, nurses, and health practitioners involved in non-emergency surgery should be working together to encourage patients to try and give up tobacco use before any surgery. “This would help reduce hospital readmission rates by minimising the risk of complications and infections in patients with a history of smoking.
“Smoking cessation programs need to be fully supported by national health policies and programmes, health insurance companies, hospitals, doctors and nurses.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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