HYSTERECTOMY: SMOKING

Smoking endangers heart health, as well as having a detrimental effect on our bones. If you are a twenty-cigarette-a-day smoker, you will suffer more from atherosclerosis (narrowing and plugging of arteries) than comparable non-smokers. You also have double or triple die risk of sustaining a crippling or fatal heart attack than someone of the same age, family history and activity level who does not smoke. Giving up smoking effects a rapid improvement in the health of the heart. Twelve months after quitting your risk of sudden death from heart attack is almost half that of persistent smokers and, after five years, this risk is almost identical to that of non-smokers.

Dangerous blood clots (thrombosis), which may lodge in any part of the body, can occur after surgery. Risk factors for thrombosis include being overweight and heavy smoking. If a hysterectomy, myomectomy, or endometrial resection is not urgent, it should be deferred in women who are overweight and who smoke until they have taken off excess kilos and quit smoking.

Surgeons can also help prevent thrombosis during major surgery, such as hysterectomy, by artificially stimulating the calf muscles to contract during the operation. This does no harm. Another technique is to inject an anticoagulant, such as heparin, to reduce the clotting activity of the blood. This has the disadvantage of increasing the amount of bleeding that occurs during surgery, but is generally considered preferable to the formation of a blood clot.

Women having any form of surgery should be able to recognise the early signs of thrombosis in the legs or a blood clot (embolus) in the lungs. The middle of the calf may become tender at rest or sore when moved, or the ankle may swell. An embolus in the lung may cause pain on breathing, a dry cough, shortness of breath, and soreness or pain in the chest If any of these symptoms occur, it is important to tell your doctor or nurse promptly. An early diagnosis nearly always averts further problems.

Paradoxically, there is some evidence to suggest that women who smoke are less likely to have a hysterectomy. The reasons for this are unclear but it may be related to the suppression of oestrogen by some of the toxic components of cigarette smoke. It is presumed that smoking keeps the oestrogen required for fibroid growth under control.

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This entry was posted on Friday, May 8th, 2009 at 10:05 am and is filed under Women's Health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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