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Depressed Smokers Cling to Smoking after Heart Attack

by Kamal Salar

A new study shows that the smokers who develop symptoms pertaining to depression during hospitalization for a heart attack will have a harder time giving up smoking.Dr. Anne N. Thorndike of ‘Massachusetts General Hospital’ and ‘Harvard Medical School’ in Boston, the study’s lead author said that the depression is common among heart attack patients and these issues are more important to be taken into consideration before one can expect them to show improvement in quitting smoking in real terms. Thorndike further added that the depressed smokers tend to pick up the habit within four weeks thus making it more important to address these concerns at an early stage. The smokers also show a mental reluctance to show seriousness towards the efforts for reducing the risk of cardiac troubles further.

During the study, 245 smokers had been followed up who had been in the hospital due to heart attack or unstable angina. “Unstable angina” is a type of acute chest pain that occurs when your heart doesn’t get enough oxygen. It can be a warning sign of a heart attack. They were undergoing the dame treatment comprising of smoking cessation counseling and medication which included either bupropion hydrochloride, an anti-smoking medication sold as ‘Zyban’, or an inactive placebo.

Thorndike added, “Quitting sharply reduces the death rate among smokers with heart disease”. She further observed that almost 40% of these smokers are more likely to “start again within a year of having a heart attack”.

During the study they observed that 22% of the patients showed moderate to severe depressive symptoms ranging from craving and withdrawal symptoms, scored higher on a test of their nicotine dependence. They had lower level of confidence on themselves towards giving up smoking. The researchers found that the depressed patients were 2.4 times more likely than their non-depressed peers to start smoking again.

The medical charts also had more facts to add to this study. The researchers observed that difference between the effect of ‘Zyban’ and ‘placebo’ on the depressed patients during the treatment cannot be called as a very significant difference statistically. Among the depressed patients, 19 percent on ‘bupropion’ were able to quit, compared to 3 percent on ‘placebo’. For non-depressed patients, by comparison, quit rates were 27 percent for those on placebo and 27 percent for those on the drug.

This study tries to win a more understanding and considerate attitude towards the smokers. The family should understand the toughness associated with quitting smoking. They depressive symptoms make it more difficult to succumb.

So it makes it mandatory to give attention to help the smokers with their depressive symptoms along with counselling, and medication, to optimize the effect of treatment.

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