Tobacco cessation medication may reduce hospitalization for heart attacks

Dec 07, 2010

The use of tobacco cessation medication in a population may lead to reduced hospital admissions for heart attacks and for coronary atherosclerosis within the two years after use according to a study by Thomas Land and colleagues from the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School Boston, USA, and published in this week's PLoS Medicine. The study found no reduction in hospitalizations for other diseases, in the same two year period.

In July 2006, the Massachusetts Medicaid program (MassHealth) adopted comprehensive coverage of tobacco cessation medications. By the end of 2008, more than 75,000 MassHealth subscribers had used the tobacco cessation medication benefit and smoking prevalence among subscribers had declined by approximately 10%. In this study, the authors analysed MassHealth claims data to see if use of tobacco cessation medications had reduced for tobacco-related diseases.

After adjusting for other factors that might have affected hospitalization, such as outbreaks, the authors found that among MassHealth beneficiaries, the annual rate of hospital admissions for people with heart attacks was 46% lower after use of tobacco cessation medications. In addition, there was a 49% annual decline in admissions for people with coronary atherosclerosis—another smoking-related disease. Studies show that hospitalizations for coronary heart disease are among the first diagnostic groups to show a decrease following smoking cessation, while diagnoses for cancers and smoking-related lung diseases typically improve beyond the two year time frame of this study. Accordingly, this study found no significant changes in hospital admission rates for people with lung diseases associated with smoking, such as asthma, pneumonia, and chronic airway obstruction. However, these findings cannot show if the reduced claims for hospital admissions were associated with a reduction in smoking, because smoking cessation was not recorded by MassHealth.

The results of this study suggest that removing financial barriers to the use of smoking cessation medications has the potential to produce short-term decreases in the use of hospital services that could outweigh the costs of comprehensive tobacco cessation medication benefits. However, as these findings might be unique to Massachusetts, similar studies need to be done in other US states to see whether the clinical benefits of tobacco cessation medication found in this study, can be repeated.

The authors conclude: "For low-income smokers, removing the barriers to the use of smoking cessation pharmacotherapy has the potential to decrease short-term utilization of hospital services."

Explore further: US health system not properly designed to meet needs of patients nearing end of life, says IOM

More information: Land T, Rigotti NA, Levy DE, Paskowsky M, Warner D, et al. (2010) A Longitudinal Study of Medicaid Coverage for Tobacco Dependence Treatments in Massachusetts and Associated Decreases in Hospitalizations for Cardiovascular Disease. PLoS Med 7(12): e1000375. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000375

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Telephone 'quitlines' may help dental patients stop smoking

May 25, 2007

Dentists may be able to help their patients stop smoking by referring them to tobacco-use telephone "quitlines," according to a pilot study published in the May issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA).

Heart attack rates fall following national smoking bans

Feb 26, 2008

French researchers announced a striking 15% decrease in admissions of patients with myocardial infarction to emergency wards since the public ban on smoking came into effect in restaurants, hotels and casinos in France last ...

Recommended for you

Study highlights concern for homeless seniors

6 hours ago

A new study for the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, co-authored by researchers at the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University, has found that a disproportionate number of people chronically staying ...

Mateship key to boosting resilient youth

7 hours ago

Having a supportive friend who is connected to their family and greater community can be the critical factor that protects and promotes resilience in vulnerable Aboriginal youth, according to research from ...

Here's to wine, chocolate and a long, healthy life

9 hours ago

Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122, remains the oldest person on record. One might assume that she led a faultless, healthy lifestyle. Not at all. Every year on her birthday, as her celebri ...

User comments : 0