Tag Archives: smoking related amputations

Dangers of Smoking Label

The FDA’s 9 New Cigarette Health Warnings

September 22, 2012 marks a monumental change in the appearance of cigarette packaging in the United States.

At this time, new warning labels must appear on all cigarette packs. Each warning targets a specific danger of smoking with a graphic color image that communicates the intent of the warning. There were 9 significant warnings decided upon out of the initial 36 proposed in November 2010 when the label revamping ruling selection began. Part of the process included a time of evaluating public comments.

On September 22, 2012 big tobacco manufacturers will no longer be able to distribute cigarettes in the United States unless their package designs display the one of the 9 warning labels.

Graphic Incentives to Quit Smoking

New FDA Cigarette Package Warning LabelThe final selection of 9 FDA cigarette warning labels hope to target youth smokers making them more aware to empower them to never start smoking. The labels also increase awareness of the some of the health risks and diseases related to smoking by providing a graphic incentive to appeal to smokers to get them to quit.

Since research suggests that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol and that the frequency of smoking is often what prevents people from quitting, a strong intent behind these graphic labels is that perhaps each time someone picks up a pack, the image could put them over the edge into the say no or quit category.

The 9 cigarette label warnings cover these concerns:

  1. Cigarettes are addictive.
  2. Tobacco smoke can harm your children.
  3. Cigarettes cause fatal lung disease.
  4. Cigarettes cause cancer.
  5. Cigarettes cause strokes and heart disease.
  6. Smoking during pregnancy can harm your baby.
  7. Smoking can kill you.
  8. Tobacco smoke causes fatal lung disease in nonsmokers.
  9. Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health.

Along with each of the warnings are corresponding smoking facts that give smokers a lot to think about.

Not Soon Enough for Many

We can’t help but think how many lives would have been different had smokers truly been informed of the dangers of inhaling tobacco smoke before they picked up their habit or exposed others to the toxic fumes. I think only those with a death wish would have started smoking or exposed their loved ones.

Just recently, we received this heartbreaking letter from a caregiver taking care of a parent who developed serious health problems brought on from smoking and died a horrible death. Should we all have the choice of a better quality of life?

Smoking Killed my Mom: 4 Years As A Caregiver

FDA Warning LabelThere are no words to express fully express our condolences to the author of this letter. For their privacy we are not including their name, but the content is published in its unedited form:

Thank you so much for taking the time to express your condolences. I am devastated by the loss of my mother, and I am not handling her death well at all. The fact that it was so senseless makes it that much harder to bear. The fact that she suffered so needlessly…

She had gangrene in her little toe. That’s how it all started. She needed surgery to unblock her right carotid artery. It was discovered that her circulation was completely blocked from her right hip to her foot. The surgeons unblocked the arteries and put stents in. Her toe even healed, but she wouldn’t quit smoking. When she started showing signs of the same problem, I made her quit. We got into huge arguments, but it was already too late. They ended up amputating the entire front of her right foot.

Every day, I had to change her bandage at least twice. I had to flush this gaping, horrific wound, put antibiotic cream over it, then re-wrap it in clean gauze. Every night, I had to listen to her beg me for more pain medication that I could not give her. After three months of hell, the doctors amputated her right leg below the knee. This wound healed, but her independence had been seriously compromised forever. Her ability to breathe was rapidly deteriorating as well.

StethoscopeNear the end of March 2010, she said she needed to go to the hospital because she couldn’t breathe. Five minutes more, and they would have had to intubate her. They put her on steroids to help reduce the inflammation in her seriously damaged lungs. A few days later, they did a bronchoscopy and suctioned a bunch of crap out of her lungs. She was sent to a nursing home to recoup. The steroids raised her blood sugar and made insulin necessary. They also caused her to gain a significant amount of weight, which further hindered her ability to breathe.

Right before she was due to come home, the nursing home sent her to the ER. When my best friend and I arrived, she wasn’t in any distress. Mom really wasn’t sure why they had sent her at all. Unfortunately, sitting on the gurney for so long caused a massive cramp in her hip. She went into respiratory distress and deteriorated rapidly. She wound up staying in the hospital for a week. That’s when her doctor called and told me that there was no way I would be able to handle her care on my own anymore. He ordered her to be placed in a nursing home. You don’t even want to know the hell that the two of us went through with that place. She had pneumonia in December of 2010. When she had sufficiently recovered, they had to amputate her left leg below the knee as well.

The Saturday before she died (she died the week of Easter Sunday), I went to pick up her laundry as usual. She was sleeping, but very restless. She cried out in pain and sat straight up in bed. I asked her if she was okay. She said yes. I asked her why she hadn’t eaten any of her dinner yet (her tray was untouched, unusual for her). She picked up her fork and started pushing the food around. “I’ve been eating” she said. I went to fill her pitcher with fresh ice water. I came back and she was sound asleep again.

I asked the two aides in the room how long she had been like this. They shrugged and said, “She’s been making those funny noises all day.” I explained to them that only once in a while was normal and that they should be a ‘tad more concerned’ (I was being very sarcastic, of course). I went out into the hall to speak with the nurse, who informed me that Mom had been complaining of pain in her right hip, so they gave her (insert name of a narcotic pain pill here). I shook my head ‘no’, and told the nurse that the only pain reliever her doctor had ever approved was regular-strength Tylenol. Narcotic pain pills suppress the breathing too much in people with COPD. She said that’s what the doctor had ordered. Turns out it wasn’t her doctor, but the doctor on call.

Symbol for No SmokingTuesday morning at 6:30 a.m., the phone rings. Mom’s eyes were open, but she was non-responsive. By the time my brother and I reached the hospital she was already gone. To have to see her laying on that gurney just about killed me. I honest to god don’t think I’m going to get through this. I am beyond furious that these companies can literally get away with murder. Nobody you love should have to die the way my mother did. I did everything in my power to make her well. I failed. I don’t think I can live with that, especially since I’m about to lose our house and everything my family ever owned. I am terrified out of my wits. Sorry this is so long…I just needed to talk. There’s so much that I left out of this…so much more. Never have I known a hell like what we had to go through. It just isn’t right.

It is our hopes that you will pass on this article on to others who are enticed to smoke, or your loved ones who do. Sometimes a wake up call like this true story can make a huge difference.

Effects of Smoking on Circulation Can Lead to Amputations

Smoking effects our health in so many ways.

Just how does smoking addiction hurt you?

Narrowed and hardened arteries leading to atherosclerosis and gangrene, cold hands and feet, cold skin, decreased fitness, weakened bones,osteoporosis, peripheral vascular disease to name a few.

Smoking damages the blood vessels in the legs and arms leading to restricted circulation, ulcers, gangrene and even amputation of the limbs.

Circulation Restricted From SmokingOver 90% of cases of peripheral vascular disease which lead to amputation of one or both legs are caused by nicotine addiction and smoking – about 2000 amputations a year in the UK.

Source: Nosmokingday.org (UK)

Peripheral Arterial Disease and Smoking

“About 80% of the patients whose legs or extremities I have to amputate are current smokers. If they are not current smokers, then they almost certainly used to smoke.

If patients presenting with PAD have never smoked, I have cause to doubt whether they have the disease at all.” -Mr. Daryll Baker, Consultant vascular surgeon, Royal Free Hospital.

The most common cause of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, fatty deposits (plaques) build up in your artery walls and reduce blood flow.

PAD mimics a condition similar to coronary artery disease and carotid artery disease where fatty deposits build up in the inner linings of the artery walls.

These blockages restrict blood circulation, mainly in arteries leading to the kidneys, stomach, arms, legs, and feet.

Book Cover of Peripheral Arterial DiseaseRobert S. Schwartz, MD states: “Atherosclerosis and PAD is pretty much the same thing. Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries.

It’s the plaque that builds up; it’s the calcium, the fats, the fibrous tissue, the scarring that grows into the arteries and stops the blood from flowing into the legs.”

In the UK, about 2.7 million people age 55 or older, have some degree of peripheral arterial disease and almost 8-12 million people in the United States who have this disease are unaware of having this condition.

PAD is often silent for a very long time before you will notice any symptoms. Some Symptoms of PAD may include:

  1. Foot pain that does not go away when you stop exercising
  2. Cold and numb feet or toes
  3. Leg numbness or weakness
  4. A change in the color of your legs
  5. Decreased leg strength, function, and poor balance
  6. Experiencing discomfort within the muscles of the calves or the thighs, or the buttocks may be indicative of claudication (PAD leg pain occurs in the muscles, not the joints)
  7. Hair loss on your feet and legs
  8. Changes in your nails
  9. Foot pain at rest, which indicates that PAD is getting worse
  10. Foot or toe wounds that will not heal or heal very slowly
  11. Erectile dysfunction
  12. Gangrene

*Symptoms of peripheral vascular disease depend on what artery is affected and how severely the blood flow is reduced.

One of the serious sub effects of peripheral vascular disease is Buerger’s disease (thromboangiitis obliterans). It is characterized by a combination of inflammation and clots in the arteries and veins that obstruct blood flow.

Brandon Carmichael is a young man who has suffered this disease to an extreme, having had his left leg amputated below the knee from smoking.

The risk of peripheral vascular disease is dramatically increased in smokers. When a person stops smoking, regardless of how much he or she may have smoked in the past, their risk of peripheral vascular disease rapidly declines.

In a Health Briefing on Silent Epidemic, Peripheral Arterial Disease article Alan T. Hirsch, MD, Chair, P.A.D. Coalition states, “Peripheral arterial disease is the most dangerous disease that most Americans have never heard of”.

The same article continues with the following warning: “People with peripheral arterial disease – P.A.D. – have up to a six-fold increase in cardiovascular death. Without early detection and proper treatment, one in four people with P.A.D. will suffer a heart attack, stroke, amputation or die within the next five years.”

If you add a bad diet and a sedentary lifestyle into this equation, you probably have a prescription to die much younger. How many smokers with Peripheral Arterial Disease have died of a heart attack or stroke where the connection to smoking as a risk factor fell silent?

An absence of a pulse in your legs or arms should immediately alert your health care provider to seek further testing for Peripheral Arterial Disease. eMedicineHealth has an excellent article on Exams and Tests regarding Peripheral Arterial Disease. It is very important that you consult with your health care provider if you believe that you are at risk for this disease.

Are you a smoker? If you are a smoker the most important thing you can do for your health is to educate yourself about smoking-related diseases. If you are an ex-smoker, you also need to stay abreast of learning about smoking-related diseases. Knowledge is power!


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