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Study: Number of people who refuse to quit smoking increases

The study found little improvement in the lifestyles of people at high risk for cardiovascular disease.

By Stephen Feller
Study: Number of people who refuse to quit smoking increases
The percentage of smokers in 5 European nations who said they had no intention of quitting increased by 11 percent in the last 7 years. Photo by Milles Studio/Shutterstock

LONDON, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- While the number of people who smoke cigarettes has not increased in the last seven years, the number of people with no interest in quitting has increased significantly, according to a new study of cardiac health in Europe.

Overall, the study found little to no improvement of lifestyle, risk factors or therapeutic management by people who are at high risk for developing cardiovascular disease. In addition to smoking, there was no improvement seen in obesity, physical activity or therapeutic control of blood pressure. Increases in people using lipid-lowering medications were "insignificant," though improvement was seen.

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"The highest levels of smoking are still in the youngest patients who have the most to gain from quitting," said Professor Kornelia Kotseva, a senior clinical research fellow at Imperial College London, in a press release. "But the use of pharmacotherapy for smoking cessation remained very low over the seven years so more emphasis is needed in this area."

Researchers at the 2015 ESC Congress presented results from the EUROASPIRE IV study, which was conducted in 2014 and 2015 in 14 European countries. Results from the new surveys were compared with the results from 5 countries -- Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom -- that also participated in the previous EUROASPIRE III, conducted between 2006 and 2008.

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The research included 5,890 participants, 3,827 of whom were included in both surveys. All participants were under the age of 80 and had no history of coronary or other atherosclerotic disease, and had been prescribed one or a combination of anti-hypertensive drug, lipid lowering drug, or an anti-diabetes treatment.

In the seven years between surveys, the same 17 percent of participants were smokers and the number of smokers was highest in people under the age of 50. There was, however, a large increase in smokers who said they have no intention to quit, which jumped from 23 to 34 percent.

Researchers reported there was no change in the number of people who were overweight or obese. Less than 20 percent of survey participants said they engaged in physical activity outside of work for 20 minutes at least 3 days a week.

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The number of people on blood pressure medication increased from 28 to 35 percent and the number on lipid-lowering medications increased from 29 percent to 37 percent. Most of those people, however, remained above target levels for both blood pressure and glycemic control.

"Lifestyle trends are not moving in the right direction," Kotseva said. "Our analysis highlights the pressing need for modern preventive cardiology programs integrating lifestyle and medical risk factor management, adapted to the medical and cultural settings in each country. Healthcare systems that invest in prevention are urgently needed."

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