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Why heart transplant patients resume smoking revealed in University of Pittsburgh study

d a 37 percent five-year survival rate for heart transplant patients who smoke, compared to an 80 percent survival for their nonsmoking counterparts.

The Pitt researchers studied 202 heart transplant recipients for up to three years. Of these, 144 (71 percent) had a history of smoking, from two to more than 95 pack years, a calculation based on the number of packs per day times the number of years smoked. As part of a longitudinal study about health habits following transplantation, the researchers conducted in-depth interviews with the patients, their family caregivers, and the patients' transplant nurse coordinators at two, seven, 12 and 36 months after transplantation.

Fifty-five recipients (27 percent of the sample of 202 participants) started smoking at some point after their transplant, and of these recipients, 45 (82 percent) started smoking within the first year, including 26 (58 percent) who started within two months. One patient who had not previously been a smoker took up smoking an occasional cigar. Throughout the three-year period, 25 smoked 10 or fewer cigarettes a day, nine smoked between 11 and 19 a day, and four smoked a pack or more daily. Amount was unknown for the remaining 11 who were mostly cigar smokers.

Based on the series of interviews, researchers were also able to perform statistical analyses indicating the strongest predictors to smoking relapse. Patients who quit smoking for a period of less than six months before their transplant (as opposed to those who quit for longer periods of time) were much more likely to start smoking earlier and more often. Depression and anxiety within two months after the transplant also made it more likely that relapse would occur early, and these patients reported smoking the most -- more than a half a pack a day.

Having a caregiver who smokes was less significant but remained a strong predictor, say the researchers. Of 194 caregivers who took part in the study, 50 were sm
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Contact: Lisa Rossi
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
11-Apr-2002


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