Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Nicotine patch therapy in smoking cessation reduces the extent of exercise-induced myocardial ischemia.

OBJECTIVES: We sought to determine the effects of nicotine patch therapy, when used to promote smoking cessation, on myocardial ischemia in patients with coronary artery disease.

BACKGROUND: Nicotine patches substantially increase quit rates among cigarette smokers, but their safety in patients with myocardial ischemia who are attempting to quit smoking is unknown.

METHODS: This is a prospective study using exercise thallium-201 single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) to assess serial changes in the total and ischemic myocardial perfusion defect size at baseline while patients were smoking and during treatment with 14- and 21-mg nicotine patches. Entry criteria required that patients 1) smoked > or = 1 pack of cigarettes per day; 2) had known coronary artery disease; and 3) had myocardial ischemia (i.e., > or = 5% reversible perfusion defect) on SPECT. All patients performed symptom-limited treadmill exercise, and the baseline SPECT study served as its own control. We interpreted and computer quantified the SPECT images with no knowledge of the testing sequence.

RESULTS: Thirty-six of the 40 enrolled patients had exercise SPECT at baseline and during treatment with at least 14-mg nicotine patches. These patients had an initial perfusion defect size of 17.5 +/- 10.6% while smoking an average of 31 +/- 11 cigarettes per day for 40 +/- 12 years. A significant reduction in the total perfusion defect size (p < 0.001) was observed from baseline (17.5 +/- 10.6%) to treatment with 14-mg (12.6 +/- 10.1%) and 21-mg (11.8 +/- 9.9%) nicotine patches. This reduction occurred despite an increase in treadmill exercise duration (p < 0.05) and higher serum nicotine levels (p < 0.001). There was a significant correlation between the reduction in defect size and exhaled carbon monoxide levels (p < 0.001) because patients reduced their smoking by approximately 74% during the trial.

CONCLUSIONS: Nicotine patches, when used to promote smoking cessation, significantly reduce the extent of exercise-induced myocardial ischemia as assessed by exercise thallium-201 SPECT.

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