Quitting After a Heart Attack

If your loved one has suffered a heart attack, you're just glad he's alive and well. But if you want him to stay alive, your best bet is to make sure his hospital has a smoking cessation program on the premises, or that he receives a referral to a cardiac rehabilitation program. And if you thought that individual counseling sessions with a licensed health professional would be good enough to make him quit smoking for good, think again; the statistics say otherwise.

Two Steps

It seems that the best way for someone to quit smoking after surviving a heart attack is to join a hospital-based smoking cessation program in conjunction with entering a cardiac rehabilitation program. Those heart attack patients who take these two steps have a higher rate of success in quitting smoking after a heart attack, says the newest study.

Quit Rates

Researchers at Emory University look at 639 patients who were smokers at the time they were hospitalized for a heart attack. The team of researchers found that 6 months later, 297 of these patients, or around 47% of them, had given up smoking for good.

The research team discovered that the odds of quitting rose among those patients who were given referrals for cardiac rehabilitation on being discharged and also among those who had been hospitalized at facilities that offered a smoking cessation program to its patients. The surprise finding was that patients who were counseled on an individual basis did not tend to succeed in quitting smoking. Why this is so has yet to be discovered.

Susmita Parashar, MD, MPH, division of cardiology, Emory University School of Medicine and an author of the study says that, "The findings are important because cardiac rehabilitation and hospital-based smoking cessation programs appear to be under-utilized in current clinical practice and should be potentially considered as a structural measure of health care quality for patients with heart attack."

Parashar believes that the study illustrates that patients who are recovering from heart attacks have a greater success rate for quitting smoking when they are referred to a cardiac rehabilitation program or when a hospital-based smoking cessation program is available at close quarters.

It's important to note that contrary to what one may have thought, individual counseling of heart attack patients by licensed health care professionals at the time of hospitalization does not predispose heart attack patients to give up smoking.