Smokers at much higher risks of Covid: Docs

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 Rohit Shishodia
Pulmonologists have said that those who smoke are at a much higher risk, than others, of developing Covid.

Speaking at the inauguration of a Smoking Cessation Clinic at Aster CMI Hospital in Hebbal, Bengaluru, Dr. Srivatsa Lokeshwaran, Consultant - Interventional Pulmonology, said: “The covid-19 crisis has made us realize the importance of living a healthy life. Recent studies have highlighted that smoke affected lungs find it harder to fight the coronavirus, which makes smokers vulnerable to covid-19 virus."

“Smokers are currently at a much higher risk of developing a severe disease with Covid-19 virus. Thus, for smokers and people who are addicted to tobacco, the pandemic is perhaps the best time to start afresh and quit smoking. The beneficial effects after quitting smoking can be felt as early as in 20 minutes where one’s elevated heart rate and blood pressure drops,” he added.

He pointed out that within 2 to12 weeks, both the blood circulation and lung function improves and after 1-9 months coughing and shortness of breath decreases. After 10 years, their risk of lung cancer also falls to about half and the risk of many other cancers is reduced.

"Tobacco cessation can certainly benefit an individual’s health and can also have an overall benefit on the country’s economy by reducing the burden on healthcare expenditure," added Dr Lokeshwaran.

Dr. Sunil Kumar K, Senior Consultant, Interventional Pulmonology, Aster CMI Hospital, said: “As per a recent report by Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2, in India currently 28.6% (266.8 million) of those aged 15 years and above are addicted to tobacco in some form. The study further highlights that among these individuals, 24.9% (232.4 million) are daily tobacco consumers while 3.7% (34.4 million) are occasional consumers.”

He further said that this research also highlights that every tenth adult in India smokes tobacco which indicates how tobacco use is fast becoming a cause of concern for the country. Tobacco use has now become a leading cause of pre-mature deaths and has become a major public health challenge.

Dr Sunil pointed out that even though many people are aware that tobacco use can increase the risk of cancer, there are still a lot of gaps on the other associated risks which this harmful habit can trigger.

“Therefore, with the launch of this Smoking Cessation Clinic, we at Aster CMI Hospital are strengthening our commitment to expand the reach of preventive healthcare and play a greater part in helping the public in curbing this illicit habit and enable them to take back the control of their lives,” he added.

According to the Aster CMI Hospital,  every year, globally, with over 2 million new cases detected every year, lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide and people who smoke regularly are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer.

Therefore, as the number of incidences are increasing every year, prevention has become more important than cure and only through proactive actions and regular interventions taken to increase public awareness, we as a society can put a complete stop to smoking and consumption of tobacco.


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