Doctors Must Help COPD Patients Quit Smoking

Patients need to understand the risks, and know how to quit, researchers say

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FRIDAY, June 2, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Despite the risks, more than 36 percent of patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)are still smoking, a new study says.

"It doesn't look like a good part of the [COPD] population is getting the information it needs from health-care providers," lead researcher Jeannine Schiller, a statistician with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a prepared statement.

COPD includes chronic lung diseases like emphysema and bronchitis, and affects more than 13.5 million Americans. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing and productive cough. The biggest risk factor for COPD is smoking, and it will cause flare-ups and the disease to worsen.

Almost 23 percent of the smokers in the study with COPD said that their doctor did not talk to them about quitting smoking within the last year, or offer them suggestions to help them quit.

Doctors are instructed to talk to all smokers about their tobacco use at every visit, according to U.S. Public Health guidelines, and to give them advice on how to quit.

Results of the study, which was conducted on over 175,000 adults over age 25, showed that although nearly half of the people studied with COPD tried to quit smoking, only 14.6 percent were successful. Patients aged 65 and older were more likely to successfully quit smoking, although younger smokers were more likely to try to quit. The majority didn't use any supplements to help them quit.

"I didn't realize how many people stop cold turkey, and I was surprised at how few use medicines and patches," Schiller said.

The study included six years of compiled data taken from federal surveys conducted between 1997 and 2002. Results were published in the July issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

More information

For more on COPD, head to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Source: Health Behavior News Service news release, May 5, 2006

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