New research shows smoking actually helps arteries stay open following a procedure to repair blocked blood vessels in the legs.Researchers who conducted the study say they do not recommend smoking, but say the findings suggest the increased level of carbon monoxide in the blood stream may be beneficial in preventing restenosis, or re-narrowing of the arteries.
Peripheral artery disease(PAD) is a narrowing or blockage in the arteries that causes an insufficient flow of oxygenated blood to the arms and legs. Doctors treat PAD with angioplasty, a minimally invasive procedure where a balloon is threaded to the site and inflated. However, 60 percent of treated patients' arteries re-narrow within a year.
For the study, researchers looked at 650 patients with PAD who underwent angioplasty. The patients were asked if they smoked and if they did, how many cigarettes a day. At six months and 12 months, the treatment sites were measured to check for re-narrowing of the arteries.
Researchers reported that in patients who smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day, the rate of re-narrowing was 16 percent at six months and 29 percent at one year and it was also observed that non-smoking patients had a re-narrowing rate of 28 percent at six months and 45 percent at one year.
Thus researchers suggest that studying carbon monoxide therapy in this patient population may be worthwhile.