Carbon monoxide test helps doctors determine patients' smoking status

October 22, 2007

(Chicago, IL, October 22, 2007) - Pulse cooximeters have long been used to identify and measure the levels of carbon monoxide (CO) in the blood of patients or firefighters. But new research, presented at CHEST 2007, the 73rd annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), indicates that the device has another use-- it can quickly, inexpensively, and noninvasively identify a person who smokes. The study argues that if smokers know their blood CO levels, they may be more prone to quit or more likely to never start in the first place.

"By using this device in the office, the poisoning of the hemoglobin or blood with carbon monoxide can be detected and shown to the patient before they actually develop a clinical disease such as emphysema or cancer," said study author Sridhar P. Reddy, MD, MPH, FCCP, St. Clair Pulmonary and Critical Care, St. Clair, MI. "In our practice, when the carboxyhemoglobin is 10%, it's easy to tell a patient that 10% of his or her blood is poisoned and unable to carry oxygen. By doing this, we catch the patient's attention right away and can begin smoking cessation counseling."

The study originated as a high school science project. Carried out by Dr. Reddy's son. At each outpatient visit, Dr. Reddy measured patients' carboxyhemoglobin, blood poisoned by CO, and methhemoglobin, blood transformed by other substances, such as nitrogen dioxide, with a pulse cooximeter. And, as part of his project, his son, who was a sophomore at Detroit Country Day School, developed and distributed questionnaires regarding the patients' smoking status.

"When I was searching for a science project, I realized that the question of how much carboxyhemoglobin is needed to suggest smoking seemed unanswered," said coauthor and son Ashray Reddy. "I thought that by trying to answer this question, I could help people quit smoking."

Researchers used the pulse cooximeter, a device that is clipped to the patient's finger and reads the percentages of poisoned blood through a light that is shined through the nail bed. A total of 476 patients who visited the clinic participated. Patients were identified as a smoker, based on a combination of their questionnaire responses and if they're CO levels exceeded 6% of their blood. Researchers were also able to identify secondhand smokers based on slight changes found in their levels, as well. Results showed that 98 patients were smokers, 72 were secondhand smokers, and 306 were nonsmokers.

"For the first time, the entire smoking cessation story can be quickly and noninvasively played out from beginning to end--detection, revealing the effect, and intervention, all while being respectful of available resources," said Dr. Reddy. "Using this device, we can deliver the whole package, and based on our data, we believe it should be routinely used in any program geared toward smoking cessation."

Researchers conclude that pulse cooximetery is a quick, inexpensive, and noninvasive way to detect patients' smoking status, and that the outpatient clinic is an ideal setting for its use. They also suggest its use for screening smoking status in multiple settings and populations, such as smoking cessation programs, high schools, hospitals, and the workplace.

"Physicians need to be able to identify a patient's smoking status in order to effectively counsel them about smoking cessation," said Alvin V. Thomas, Jr., MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians. "A method or device that could help physicians do this, and potentially reduce the number of people who smoke, is a method that is worth further exploration."
-end-
CHEST 2007 is the 73rd annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians, held October 20-25 in Chicago, IL. ACCP represents 17,000 members who provide patient care in the areas of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine in the United States and throughout the world. The ACCP's mission is to promote the prevention and treatment of diseases of the chest through leadership, education, research, and communication. For more information about the ACCP, please visit the ACCP Web site at www.chestnet.org.

American College of Chest Physicians

Related Smoking Cessation Articles from Brightsurf:

A call for more comprehensive smoking cessation programs for cancer patients who smoke
In an editorial published in JAMA, UNC Lineberger's Adam Goldstein, MD, MPH, director of the UNC Tobacco Treatment Programs and professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Family Medicine, and his co-authors called for more funding and better reimbursement for smoking cessation counseling for cancer patients who smoke.

Group-based smoking cessation help US inmates quit tobacco
Behavioral and nicotine replacement therapies offered together can help people who are incarcerated quit smoking, according to Rutgers researchers.

Cost-benefit analysis of funding a smoking cessation program before surgery
For patients undergoing surgery, smoking is linked with a higher risk of experiencing complications following their procedure, and quitting smoking before surgery may help reduce this risk.

E-Cigarettes more effective than counseling alone for smoking cessation
Smokers who received smoking cessation counseling and used electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) containing nicotine were more than twice as likely to successfully quit smoking compared to those who received counseling but did not use e-cigarettes, in a clinical trial presented at the American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Session Together with World Congress of Cardiology (ACC.20/WCC).

Adding smoking cessation to lung cancer screening can reduce mortality by 14%
Including smoking cessation with existing lung cancer screening efforts would reduce lung cancer mortality by 14% and increase life-years gained by 81% compared with screening alone, according to a study from Rafael Meza from the University of Michigan and colleagues and published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, a publication of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer.

Certain factors predict smoking cessation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis
Smoking doubles the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and continuing to smoke after being diagnosed has negative effects on patients.

Smoking cessation treatment targets adolescents
The primary focus of smoking cessation research has been adults in the past, but a new study in JAMA Pediatrics zeroed in on adolescents.

Smoking cessation program for patients with, without cancer
A tobacco treatment program delivered at a cancer center had average seven-day smoking abstinence rates of about 45% at three- and six-month follow-ups and nearly 44% at the nine-month follow-up, and those rates didn't differ between patients with and without cancer.

Study underscores role of menthol cigarettes in smoking cessation
Researchers cite Big Tobacco's marketing stronghold on African-American smokers among reasons why this group is 12% less likely to quit.

Mindfulness smoking-cessation app can change the brain
Brown University researchers have found that a mindfulness-based smartphone app designed to help people stop smoking was effective at reducing study participants' self-reported daily cigarette consumption.

Read More: Smoking Cessation News and Smoking Cessation Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.