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JOURNAL

Stop Smoking To Reduce Your Risk Of COVID-19

6 min read
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The negative effects of tobacco use on health are well-established.

Tobacco use is a known risk factor contributing to severe disease, chronic illness and death from numerous respiratory infections.

Smoking causes 8 million deaths every year from cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, hypertension, and lung disorders.

With this long-established understanding of the negative impacts cigarettes have on our overall health – and respiratory health in particular – what are the implications for smokers during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Here we will look into research carried out by the World Health Organisation, The Cleveland Clinic and others, to clarify some of the concerns smokers may be experiencing during this global health crisis.

Quit Smoking Now

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an infectious, respiratory disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.

Common symptoms include a dry cough, a fever, and fatigue.

However, for those who are more seriously affected by the disease, symptoms include a tight chest, noticeable breathlessness even when sitting still, having to concentrate on breathing, finding it hard to breathe, and a rapid heartbeat and shallow breathing as if you had just sprinted hard (although you haven’t).

As a respiratory disease, Covid primarily attacks the lungs.

As the coronavirus attaches itself to the mucous membranes that line your nose, mouth and eyes, it infects nearby healthy cells and multiplies.

As the coronavirus travels down your respiratory tract, the lining can become irritated and inflamed.

Eventually the coronavirus can reach the tiny air sacs in your lungs called alveoli. It is here where oxygen is absorbed into your blood and carbon dioxide is expelled.

Once the coronavirus reaches the alveoli, it can cause serious lung complications such as pneumonia. In extreme cases, complications that can lead to death include respiratory failure, and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).

Among those who develop symptoms, around 80% will recover from the disease without the need for medical treatment. Around 15% will become seriously ill and require oxygen, and 5% will become critically ill and require intensive medical care.

However, as we shall see, the risk of becoming seriously or critically ill from Covid is increased if you’re a smoker.

Covid and Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a lung infection that causes inflammation in one or both lungs.

Signs and symptoms of pneumonia include breathing becoming very difficult, and you may experience shortness of breath, a cough, a fever, chest pain, or fatigue.

The pneumonia caused by the coronavirus tends to affect both lungs, causing the alveoli to fill with fluid or pus, inhibiting their primary function of passing oxygen to the blood stream.

Pneumonia can be fatal in up to 30% of severe cases that are managed in the intensive care setting.

Covid and ARDS

As the symptoms of coronavirus worsen, patients may develop Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), a form of lung failure characterised by rapid onset of widespread inflammation in the lungs.

People suffering from ARDS are often unable to breathe on their own, requiring ventilator support in order to circulate oxygen around the body.

ARDS is life-threatening and usually a complication of existing health conditions.

The British Lung Foundation states that you are more at risk of ARDS if you have a history of smoking.

Smoking & Covid: The Studies

In April 2020, the World Health Organisation assembled a review of studies by public health experts.

They concluded that the available evidence suggested that smokers are more likely to develop severe disease with Covid compared to non-smokers.

One month later, a similar study by the WHO concluded that the evidence suggested that smoking is associated with increased severity of disease and death in hospitalised Covid patients.

In a May 2020 study carried out by researches from Imperial College London, King’s College London, and ZOE – a health data company that developed a coronavirus symptom tracking app – found that smokers have an increased risk from coronavirus.

Looking at the data from 2.4million users of the symptom tracking app, 11% identified themselves as smokers. The study found that smokers were 14% more likely to develop Covid symptoms such as a persistent cough and high temperature over non-smokers.

A more recent study, published in January 2021 and carried out by the The Cleveland Clinic, found that cumulative exposure to cigarette smoke is an independent risk factor for hospital admission and death from Covid.

Researchers initiated a registry of all patients tested for Covid within The Cleveland Clinic health system, classifying patients based on their cumulative recorded smoking exposure in pack years – defined as twenty cigarettes smoked everyday for one year.

Those who reported that they were never smokers were compared with patients reporting 0 to 10 pack-years, 10 to 30 pack-years, and more than 30 pack-years.

Of the 7102 patients included in the cohort, 6020 (84.8%) were never smokers, 172 (2.4%) were current smokers, and 910 (12.8%) were former smokers.

Patients who smoked more than 30 pack-years had a 2.25 times higher odds of hospitalisation, and these heavy smokers were 1.89 times more likely to die following a Covid diagnosis when compared with never-smokers.

The study also states that this association between cumulative smoking and adverse Covid outcomes is likely impacted by co-morbidities that smokers often suffer from, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Smoking Damages Health

Smoking any kind of tobacco can have a serious impact on your overall health.

Ingredients in tobacco smoke such as tar and carbon monoxide poison your respiratory system, causing serious damage to your alveoli, inhibiting lung function and increasing your risk of developing life threatening illnesses such as pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

As well as the damage caused to the lungs, smoking is also a direct cause of co-morbidities, further health complications and chronic illness such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes.

These underlying health issues put smokers at a higher risk of developing a more serious condition of Covid, more likely to result in ARDS and dying from the disease.

Given then risks to health that tobacco use causes, the World Health Organisation recommends taking immediate steps towards quitting tobacco use.

Reduce Your Risk

Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and wellbeing.

Within days of stopping smoking your breathing becomes easier, and within a matter of weeks your circulation will begin to improve and oxygen levels in your blood will increase.

You can watch our Quit Smoking Timeline Video to see how your body will begin to repair when you become a non-smoker.

Reduce your risk of serious or critical illness associated with COVID-19 and stop smoking with Heal’s Stop-In-7 Online Smoking Cessation Treatment Plan.

Combining techniques from Hypnotherapy, C.B.T, and Mindfulness-based therapies, this 7 day course provides you with — and guides you through — everything you need to break through your habit and stop smoking once and for all.

It’s never too late to quit.

"
5 MONTHS A NON-SMOKER

I had wanted to give up for ages but always failed until I came across this treatment.

Before treatment my day was geared around when I was going to have a cigarette and I would rush home sometimes to have one or rearrange my day around them. I only smoked when I was alone as I felt ashamed and the smell upset others. I can honestly say that the Stop-in-seven treatment was excellent and the support wonderfully reassuring. It was all encompassing about how one was making oneself ill but also encouraging about how much better one would feel after giving up. One of the hardest aspects of the week was when we had to change the brand of cigarette. Oh how I craved for my own brand of cigarette I had smoked for 30 years. As I write this I think I can now call myself a non-smoker and it is amazing I have given up. I had wanted to give up for ages but always failed until I came across this treatment. Physically I don’t cough anymore and I can smell better and am eating healthier and enjoying it more. Emotionally I feel stronger clearer and realise I am proud of myself for eventually stopping the habit which I never thought I would. I would recommend Stop-in7 treatment to anyone trying to stop smoking. It is well organised extremely supportive and it works. Thank you.

Gill, Brighton
"
6 WeEKS A NON-SMOKER

I have tried various methods including hypnosis sessions previously, but to no avail.

Alex, I just wanted to take a moment to contact you. Since taking your Stop Smoking course It’s been a revelation ! It’s not even like I am an ex-smoker… I am a NON SMOKER ! I literally have not had a single thought about wanting to have a smoke ! For years on and off I have stopped and started again.. The lead up to the main event and the fact that the videos are available after the main session have proven to be just what is needed ! I have tried various methods including hypnosis sessions previously, but to no avail. So I just wanted to say a big thank you from me and my wife.

Peter, Hartford
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Heal’s online Stop-In-7 Smoking Cessation Treatment Plan is expertly curated and accessible from the comfort of your own home, without the need for face-to-face therapy.

Combining techniques from Hypnotherapy, C.B.T, and Mindfulness-based therapies, this 7 day course provides you with — and guides you through — everything you need to break through your habit and stop smoking once and for all.

Stop Smoking TodayExplore Treatment Plans

References

  1. https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/coronavirus-disease-covid-19-tobacco
  2. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.18.20105288v1.full.pdf
  3. Lowe KE, Zein J, Hatipoğlu U, Attaway A. Association of Smoking and Cumulative Pack-Year Exposure With COVID-19 Outcomes in the Cleveland Clinic COVID-19 Registry. JAMA Intern Med. Published online January 25, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.8360
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