Butt Out Before Going Under the Knife

    Stop Smoking for Safer Surgery - Even a few hours cuts risks

    TORONTO, Jan. 21 /CNW/ - Ontario's Anesthesiologists have a message for
smokers: your bad habit increases the risks of complications during and after
surgery. Anesthesiologists today launched Stop Smoking for Safer Surgery, a
province-wide patient awareness campaign about the benefits of stopping
smoking prior to surgery.
    "Smokers are used to the health warnings on cigarette packets, to
restrictions on smoking at work and in public, to warnings from their family
physicians," said Dr. Stephen Brown, Chair of Ontario's Anesthesiologists, and
Chief of Anesthesiology at North York General Hospital. "To hear the message
from an Anesthesiologist is probably something new for most smokers. The risks
of pre-operative smoking are not widely known. "
    "Many smokers eventually need surgery to treat the results of their
habit. They may have to have a cancer removed, clogged blood vessels repaired,
or even an amputation," said Dr. John Oyston, founder of the Stop Smoking for
Safer Surgery initiative, and Chief of Anesthesiology at The Scarborough
Hospital. "Smokers are more likely to have heart problems during surgery and
breathing problems after surgery. They heal more slowly and have an increased
risk of wound infections."
    Cigarette smoke contains nicotine and carbon monoxide. Nicotine makes the
heart worker harder, so it needs more oxygen, but carbon monoxide prevents
blood from carrying oxygen to the heart. This strains the heart and increases
the risk of a heart attack while under an anesthetic.
    Anesthesia in Ontario is administered and supervised by specialized
Anesthesiologists who typically receive 13 years of post-secondary education.
This advanced training enables them to assess each patient, administer
specific treatment, closely monitor the effects of those treatments and ensure
that patients recover fully from the anesthetic. The role has also become
dramatically more complex over the last few years. Anesthesiologists are now
responsible for post-operative pain control, pre-operative assessment clinics,
and have become increasingly recognized as perioperative medical specialists.
    Dr. Brown and Dr. Oyston both stress that a patient should quit smoking
as soon as possible prior to an operation. But, they add, even a few hours of
not smoking reduces the risks by allowing the body to excrete these poisons.
    "Every Anesthesiologist knows that when you see the pack-a-day smoker,
with stained fingers and a chronic cough, you're in for a rough time," said
Dr. Brown. "If a smoker quits prior to surgery, it will make their date with
the surgeon less risky."

    Ontario's Anesthesiologists, also known as the Ontario Medical
Association Section on Anesthesiology, represent over 1,000 Anesthesiologists
across Ontario. The section has a mandate to work with government, the medical
community and patients to ensure quality anesthesia care for Ontarians.

For further information:

For further information: Christine Young, Ontario's Anesthesiologists,
(416) 642-6336

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