NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Check for clogged arteries are not helping heavy smokers to give up the addiction if they are under treatment.
Still, this remains an excuse when some doctors recommend that expensive diagnostic examination that involves the investigation of plaque in the carotid arteries. Experts say the study lacks a proven value in people without symptoms of heart disease.
“When smokers have access to effective smoking cessation program, the investigation of plaque in the carotid arteries does not add anything,” said lead author Dr. Nicolas Rodondi.
Previous studies have suggested that when patients look images of the accumulation of cholesterol, or plaque in their arteries, modify their lifestyles. But, at least in smokers, the new study demolishes these arguments.
“It shows that this strategy will not succeed in motivating smokers to stop smoking,” said Dr. Patrick O’Malley, of the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland, and author of an editorial accompanying the study.
During the investigation of plaque in the carotid arteries using ultrasound to obtain images of the arteries that supply blood to the brain. The procedure is increasingly popular in the U.S. and Europe, but it is unknown whether it helps patients.
“There is no proven benefit. It remains a promising test, but that is overutilized in clinical practice,” said O’Malley told Reuters Health.
Although some organizations recommend it, the panel of experts known as the United States Preventive Services Task Force does not recommend use in people without symptoms of heart disease.
The new study, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, comes from more than 500 smokers between 40 and 70 who wanted to quit and had no cardiac symptoms.
All patients received six sessions of counseling in a year, plus a phone call, nicotine patches and brochures about smoking cessation. At random, half underwent an investigation of the carotids. Most had plaque.
Although smoking encourages their occurrence, which is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke, ultrasound images had no effect.
At one year, one quarter of the controlled group with the probe had stopped smoking for at least a week, compared with 22 percent of the group that underwent the investigation. The small difference could be attributed to chance.
“Smokers are a distinct breed. They usually have a different psychological profile. They are more resilient,” said O’Malley.
Said that the investigation Rodondi carotid costs $ 400 in Switzerland, as well as six sessions to stop smoking with a doctor. He added that the test is not worth the money, as opposed to a smoking cessation program.
“When smokers try to quit on their own, they succeed only by 5 per cent of cases a year,” he concluded.
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