Going into hospital – Make Smoking History

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Why quit smoking before going into hospital?

If you are going in to hospital for an operation, it’s strongly advised that you stop smoking as soon as possible.

Giving up smoking before your operation can reduce the risk of complications and improve your recovery.

As soon as you quit smoking your body begins to repair itself. The longer you stay smokefree, the more repair work your body can do.

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What are the risks for smokers?

  • more likely to develop chest infections and blood clots after an operation
  • wounds and scars heal slower and generally a slower recovery
  • higher risk of infection than non-smokers
  • higher risk of post-operative breathing problems
  • more likely to be admitted to hospital in the first place
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What problems does smoking cause?

Because smoking damages every part of the body, smokers are at an increased risk of complications from anaesthetic and surgery.

Chest infections

Our lungs are lined with tiny hair-like structures called cilia which move mucus up and out of the air passages. Smoking damages the cilia so they are unable to remove mucus from the lungs. This makes smokers much more likely to develop chest infections, particularly after a general anaesthetic.

Heart rate and blood pressure

The nicotine in cigarette smoke increases the heart rate and raises the blood pressure. During an operation it is particularly important that the heart rate and blood pressure are kept at a safe level.

Blood clotting

Smokers tend to have more substances in the blood that can cause it to clot. After an operation the risk of blood clots developing in the legs and lungs is increased – this can be potentially fatal.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas in cigarette smoke. It moves from the lungs of smokers to their blood and reduces the body’s ability to move oxygen around.

During an operation, smokers’ blood carries less oxygen which can starve the heart and brain and may cause heart attacks and strokes. After an operation, poor oxygen supply will delay healing and increase the risk of infection.

What you should do

Try to quit smoking as soon as you know you can as this will give your body as much time as possible to repair itself before surgery.

The best way to quit smoking is with a combination of personalised support and stop smoking aids.

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Get help to quit in hospital

In many hospitals across Greater Manchester, there are teams of specialist stop smoking nurses who can help you quit smoking.

When you arrive at hospital, you’ll be asked if you smoke and visited at your bedside by a stop smoking nurse. They will give you one-to-one support and may prescribe you nicotine replacement or stop smoking medication to help you stay smokefree.

Doctor Matt Evison explains The CURE Project

Remember NHS hospitals are smokefree sites

If you do not feel ready to quit smoking you should consider using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as patches, to make your hospital stay more comfortable.

These are products that can be used to manage nicotine cravings whilst you are in hospital.

I always thought that quitting would be the hardest thing I could ever do but it wasn’t – the thought of giving up is much worse than actually doing it. If only I’d have done it 36 years earlier
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