Health

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Heart patients with depression find it much tougher to give up smoking

Quitting smoking is difficult for heart patients
Quitting smoking is difficult for heart patients

HEART disease patients with depression find it difficult to give up smoking even though it can improve their chances of survival.

A study examined heart disease in hospitals across nine countries and found that patients who are not depressed are far more likely to quit.

"The findings highlight the importance of treating depression in cardiac patients," said Dr Frank Doyle, a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the Royal College of Surgeons.

"Quitting smoking is a crucial step in aiding recovery after a heart attack and results in up to a 50pc better chance of survival," he said at the RCSI's research day.

The study examined data from patients in Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Israel and Brazil.

"We have found that patients with depressive symptoms are less likely to give up smoking in the short term and the long term, with the majority having taken up smoking again after one year," he said.

"Smokers with heart disease may require aggressive depression treatment to enhance their chances of quitting.

"It is important that GPs provide treatment for symptoms of depression to coronary heart disease patients on an ongoing basis," Dr Doyle added.

A separate survey presented to the conference found that a majority of nearly 400 pharmacy customers who were asked to list the safe levels for blood pressure and cholesterol were unable to give correct answers.

Trainee pharmacists in the National Pharmacy Internship Programme quizzed 377 customers as part of a 'know your numbers' health promotion event.

The findings showed that 66pc took medicines for blood pressure and 54pc for cholesterol, with four in 10 taking both types of medication.

More than one in two believed they knew the correct 'normal' blood pressure measurement. But only half of these actually reported a correct normal value.

Similarly, 56pc of participants reported knowing the correct target for cholesterol – but 17pc of these gave an incorrect value.

Ideally, a blood pressure reading should be at or below 120 over 80 (120/80). Many adults have blood pressure readings in the range from 120 over 80 (120/80) to 140 over 90 (140/90) – with those in the higher end of the range advised to reduce it or stop it rising any further.

A total cholesterol measurement should be below 200mg (5.2 mmol). Levels greater than 240mg (6.2 mmol) are considered high.

Irish Independent

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