December 10, 2002
Hospital urges employees, patients to quit smoking
By Collin Johnson
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—If you smoke cigarettes, you’re twice as likely to have a stroke.
It’s only one of many reasons why Methodist Rehabilitation Center is working to help its employees and patients quit smoking. Almost half of the Jackson hospital’s patients are stroke victims and smoking ranks as one of the leading risk factors.
“As health care providers, we want to be leaders and set an example for living a healthy lifestyle,” said Marcia King, education coordinator at Methodist Rehab. “We know that smoking is bad for you and we would love to see all of our employees be non-smokers.”
This week, representatives from A Comprehensive Tobacco (ACT) Center and Tobacco Quitline Mississippi will speak to employees about the dangers of tobacco use.
“Research tells us that 70 percent of smokers actually want to quit but find it too difficult,” said Melanie Tidwell, education coordinator for the ACT center.
Smoking is a key factor in stroke because it causes inflammation of the arteries. “If that inflammation is in your head, it can cause a stroke. If it’s in the arteries in your heart, it can cause a heart attack,” says Tidwell who is also a respiratory therapist.
Smoking produces carbon monoxide levels that are as dangerous as those found in car exhaust fumes, she added. “And most smokers don’t realize that carbon monoxide stays in their lungs even when they’re not smoking. It continues to do damage to the body.”
Many of Methodist Rehab’s patients suffer from diabetes and those who smoke have an increased risk of complications from their illness, said King.
“Smoking and diabetes combined can increase your chances of early death by 11 times,” she said. “Smoking also makes diabetics 40 percent more likely to suffer kidney damage.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, smoking can cause poor blood glucose control by interfering with the timing and effects of insulin. Smoking damages and constricts blood vessels, which can worsen foot ulcers and smokers with diabetes increase their risk of neuropathy up to 12 times.
Tidwell and others will talk to the staff about making “quit attempts” and setting dates to quit by. “Treatment for smokers isn’t complicated. It’s not anything that people just can’t do, but it is hard. And we know that,” she said.
Few are able to quit on the first try, Tidwell explained. But these attempts build confidence which is an essential part of the program. “If someone lasted three weeks on their first attempt, then we can look at what worked for them and build on it. At the same time, we’ll try to discard what hindered or didn’t work.”
Methodist Rehab intends to eventually implement a stop smoking campaign for its patients, King said. “It’s especially important in rehabilitation where you’re doing everything you can to help a patient reclaim their life. Smoking only slows a patient’s progress.”
For more information:
Helping smokers quit hospital's goal | The Clarion-Ledger