In this new millennium, the lifestyle of present-day humans is far different from that of our ancestors. There are numerous stressors that are prevalent in many people’s day-to-day lives that can lead to the development of unhealthy habits such as smoking, alcoholism, or other forms of substance abuse. This paper will be discussing the ill effects of smoking, how to screen some of the smoking related diseases and how to quit smoking. Smoking is a very important risk factor for the development of stroke, heart attack, hypertension, damage to blood vessels, diabetes mellitus, and multiple cancers including lung cancer, colorectal cancer, oral cancers, and bladder cancer.
Cigarette smoking is the primary risk factor for the development of lung cancer, accounting for approximately 90 percent of all lung cancers. Detection in early stages is imperative for a better outcome. The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual screenings with low-dose CT scans for high-risk individuals (people ages 50-80 years with a 20 pack-year history of smoking, current smokers, or previous smokers who have quit within the past 15 years). Screening can be discontinued when a person has not smoked for 15 years or has a limited life expectancy. A 20- pack year indicates that someone smoked one pack of cigarettes every day for the last 20 years or smoked ½ pack per day for last 40 years, etc.
Smoking is also one of the most significant risk factors for peripheral artery disease. Peripheral artery disease is a condition in which blood vessels in the legs are damaged. Patients experience intermittent pain in the calf upon walking or exercising and is relieved with rest. Wounds may also develop in various locations in the legs which are difficult to heal due to a compromised blood supply. If a patient notices any of these symptoms, they should go to their primary care provider to get evaluated with the ankle brachial index (ABI). ABI is calculated after measuring your blood pressure in your both hands and legs. An ABI of <0.90 is indicative of peripheral artery disease. If a person continues to smoke, peripheral artery disease could worsen to cause chronic limb threatening ischemia (CLTI) formerly known as critical limb ischemia. CLTI is a disease entity in which a person experiences pain, numbness, tingling, cool and pale or mottled skin, severely reduced pulses, and paralysis of the involved leg. This may lead to amputation of the leg without prompt medical care and smoking cessation.
An "abdominal aortic aneurysm" is a problem in the aorta. The aorta is the main blood vessel that comes out of the heart. Blood flows through the aorta to the rest of the body. The "abdominal aorta" is the part of the aorta located in the abdomen. It branches to bring blood to the various organs in the belly and legs. In people with an abdominal aortic aneurysm, also known as an "AAA," a part of the abdominal aorta balloons out or bulges. If the bulge bursts, the condition becomes very dangerous. A burst aorta causes significant amounts of internal bleeding. Experts recommend one-time screening for AAA with abdominal ultrasonography in men ages 65 to 75 who have previously smoked.
As discussed throughout the duration of this essay, it is extremely important to stop smoking to avoid various diseases and critical illnesses in order to maintain health, longevity, and overall quality of life. Patients without the means to curb this unhealthy habit on their own should promptly reach out to their primary care provider who would ask, advise, assess, assist, and arrange for smoking cessation.