No Smoking Day: How smoking almost killed this 33-year-old man

A middle-aged cigarette smoker who has smoked for decades is two to three times more likely to die early than someone similar who has never smoked. World Health Organization (WHO) sees tobacco smoking as the number one avoidable cause of death in the world. With March 14, being observed as National No Smoking Day, we look at how a 33-year-old professional fell into the rut of smoking which eventually ruined his life

No Smoking Day: How smoking almost killed this 33-year-old man
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“In August 2017, I got to meet a 33-year-old MNC executive at my clinic. It seemed he had a convulsion while driving and he hit a truck parked by the side,” said Dr Ashok Hande, Neurosurgeon at Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi.

After the accident, Prabhakar Seth (name changed), was unconscious and was profusely bleeding from the bruises he had sustained on his face and chest.

After stabilising him from the bleeding, a CT scan of the brain was performed. It revealed a large brain infarct, which caused the convulsion. The patient never expected this. He was immediately shifted to the ICU for further treatment. His future ahead appeared bleak, as he was married and had two children.

His wife informed us that he was a fitness fanatic and workaholic. He was non-diabetic and non-hypertensive, but he was a smoker. He used to smoke 20 cigarettes a day, to be able to carry through his work. He paid a heavy price for smoking over the course of so many years.

The only way to stop him from getting worse was for him to quit smoking. And so he did, due to his prolonged hospitalisation. The patient is stable now. But his chances of getting back to normal are minimal, explained Dr Hande.

“Smoking cigarettes affects each and every part of the human body, from the head to the toe. Cigarettes and cigarette smoke contain more than 4,700 chemical compounds, including some that are highly toxic such as vinyl chloride, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and heavy metals. Nicotine from cigarettes is as addictive as heroin,” added Dr Hande.

When the brain stops receiving the nicotine it’s so used to, the result is nicotine withdrawal. A person in such a condition may feel anxious, irritable and have strong cravings for nicotine.

“Chronic smoking can increase your chances of a brain stroke. The presence of nicotine in the blood makes it thicker. Smokers also have a high risk of insomnia and sleep apnoea, both of which could increase the risk of dementia,” said Dr Hande.

Dr Sagar Karia, a psychiatrist from LTMG Sion Hospital said, “Most smokers believe that smoking helps in improving mood and concentration. However, it is not true, the reality, in fact is quite the opposite. Smoking affects concentration, mood and sexual urges too. It can be quite damaging for an individual.”