smoking facts

- Buergers Disease -
Smoking Facts about Thromboangiitis Obliterans and Digit Amputation

Buergers disease or thromboangiitis obliterans is one of the diseases caused by smoking. The facts reveal that people with this condition must stop smoking tobacco if they are to avoid severe risk to the peripheral circulation such as tissue necrosis and subsequent amputation

Tissue necrosis simply means death of body tissues. If circulation is not restored gangrene will result and the dead tissue will have to be removed. This usually means an amputation.

All parts of your body require good circulation to deliver oxygen to all tissues and keep them healthy. Anything that interrupts the flow of good healthy oxygen rich blood to your body parts can result in tissue necrosis.

This is precisely what happens in thromboangiitis obliterans or Buerger's disease.

First described in the literature over 100 years ago this is one of the more severe smoking diseases that blocks circulation and blood flow. It is characterized by recurring inflammation of the small arteries and small veins (vasculitis) of the lower and upper extremities of the body.

Inflammation leads to swelling and subsequent blockage of blood flow.

It commonly affects the smallest blood vessels leaving the fingers and toes most vulnerable to lack of oxygen and subsequent tissue necrosis. Gangrene can also develop.

It is common for blood clots to be present along with the inflammation and this presents further problems with maintaining circulation to the fingers and toes.

smoking facts

Smoking Facts and Buerger's disease

Thromboangiitis obliterans is one of the inflammatory diseases caused by smoking and it is not known why the inflammation progresses in some people and not in others.

Even though reasons for why this condition develops is not understood it is known that tobacco use must be present to both initiate and maintain the disease process.

  • It affects about 6 in every 10,000 people.

  • Almost always affects people with a history of tobacco use.

  • Predominantly affects men age 20-40. When it occurs in women it is only seen in female smokers and is unheard of in the non-smoking female population.

  • People with Buerger's disease often have a history of thrombophlebitis which is a term for blood clot formation especially in the larger veins of the legs.

  • blood vessels of the feet are more commonly affected than the hands.

  • people who develop this disease tend to be heavy smokers.

  • there is definitely a familial connection and it is more common among people from Asia, India and the Middle East. It is less common in people with northern European heritage. This fact further strengthens the theory that there is a genetic component for the predisposition to the inflammation that is triggered by use of tobacco.

There is no cure for thromboangiitis obliterans. The only effective treatment is to stop smoking tobacco. If smokers continue with their tobacco use, in 43% of people an amputation will be necessary because of the tissue necrosis that develops.

Other diseases caused by smoking that affect circulation are mostly due to atherosclerotic processes. Buerger's Disease is a non-atherosclerotic vascular disease.

by Beverly OMalley

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