Doctor is your ally: how to get rid of bad habits
Changing a person's behavior and quitting an old habit is not easy. Especially when it comes to smoking. Today, with years of addiction superimposed on the daily stress of addiction, this quest becomes a daunting task for both doctor and patient. The advice to "quit smoking!" sounds like a mockery. But, in my opinion, the key role in the process of quitting smoking belongs not only to the individual but also to their therapist or family physician.
How can a doctor help a person? First, explain the disease associated with smoking. Not to intimidate, not to poison. They have to trust each other. Most patients hide the habit and the doctor wonders why the therapy doesn't work or the disease progresses. Of course, we should be informed that our ultimate goal is to stop smoking altogether! This is the ideal scenario that we strive for. But not by abrupt and momentary quitting, but by using a harm reduction strategy. To date, many developed countries have followed this path, achieving good results in reducing the number of smokers. For the smoker to make informed decisions, he or she needs to be aware of alternatives that reduce risks greatly. To do this, the patient must have access to accurate and truthful information about the benefits as well as the risks associated with these products.
When a person quits smoking, the risk of developing smoking-related illnesses decreases. This happens when you switch to tobacco heating systems (THS), where there is no combustion process. Nicotine is still present, so there will be no psychological discomfort for the person. But the carcinogens that are so harmful to the body are avoided that way.
How will this transition affect the human body? Let's look at specific details. First, burning a cigarette releases carbon monoxide (CO). Red blood cells, which normally carry oxygen, begin to carry CO. This reduces the amount of oxygen that is delivered to cells throughout the body and leads quite quickly to decreased exercise capacity, progression of atherosclerosis and the development of cardiovascular diseases. Within days of switching from cigarettes to THS, CO levels in the body begin to drop precipitously.
I should note that by avoiding the burning process, we reduce CO levels by 98%. Some scientific studies confirm a significant decrease in CO levels in the blood just a few hours after switching! This correlated with when people stopped smoking completely.
Second, cigarette smoke increases oxidative stress in the body. This pathological process occurs when many highly active molecules (oxidants) accumulate in the cells, causing imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants. Oxidative stress is found in cardiovascular disease, dementia, chronic inflammation and aging. Quitting smoking helps reduce oxidative stress levels: the level of the biomarker, which is the "gold standard" for assessing oxidative stress in humans, decreases by 18.8% over three months in patients who quit smoking. This score decreases by 13.46% when patients switch to THS. Inflammation associated with smoking also decreases after three to six months in those who have completely switched to a reduced-risk product compared to those who continue to smoke.
Third, smoking alters the way cholesterol is metabolized in the body, which tends to be reflected in lower levels of so-called good cholesterol (high-density lipoproteins) in the blood. Higher HDL levels are associated with a lower risk of atherosclerosis. In contrast, LDL (low-density lipoproteins) are known as "bad cholesterol," contributing to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques in the body. "Good" cholesterol levels improve three to six months after switching completely to THS compared to one that continues to smoke.
Of course, switching to alternative products is no substitute for quitting the habit altogether. But objective scientific evidence speaks in favor of the real benefits of using THS. This is especially true for people with cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases. The scientific rationale for harm reduction should be a strong argument in the doctor-patient conversation! And it is always a better choice than continuing to smoke cigarettes.