Many people in Armenia have no idea how dangerous smoking is for health in general and for the heart and arteries in particular, cardiologist Tigran Gulesserian (Fresno, California, USA) told NEWS.am Medicine.
Dr. Gulesseryan arrived in Armenia with his assistant Turis Gulesserian as part of the fifth charity of the Armenian Medical Mission. For several days now they have been consulting patients in the regions of Armenia for free, diagnosing their hypertension, diabetes mellitus and other diseases and prescribing treatment. Their attention was drawn to the fact that there are a lot of smokers in Armenia, and they are not sufficiently aware of how smoking affects health.
“The worst thing is that people think that smoking is quite normal, and that their wives also think that it’s normal. Yesterday I had a patient who underwent heart surgery two months ago, and now he smokes two packs of cigarettes a day,” the cardiologist said. “I asked him if he knew what smoking does to his arteries and no, he didn’t know. ”
With the help of an interpreter, the doctor explained to the patient why smoking is so dangerous. He hopes that the patient will understand him and will give up smoking soon, otherwise in a couple of months he will have a heart attack and / or another open heart operation.
The attention of specialists was also attracted by the fact that in many closed public premises in Armenia they still smoke, and this is a big problem for non-smokers who are forced to be exposed to tobacco smoke.
“The windows were open in the restaurant, but because of the smoke there it was still impossible to breathe. Although the music and atmosphere were pleasant, we left early because we could not breathe,” he noted.
As Dr. Gulesserian and his assistant noted, there are so many smokers in Armenia because smoking here is still considered a social norm, and also because cigarettes are too accessible.
“A pack of cigarettes in Armenia costs about $ 1 - many can afford to buy cigarettes. But if this pack cost $ 12, the number of smokers would probably be reduced. If you had excise taxes on cigarettes, the money received could be spent on the repair and re-equipment of regional hospitals,” he noted.
According to them, during their next visit to Armenia, they plan to bring nicotine patches with them to help give up smoking and give them away to patients for free. But this will not solve all the problems. It is very important to raise awareness of Armenians, especially young people, and all the time to tell them why they should not start smoking, he added.
“We need to tell young people how smoking affects life expectancy. If you want to live to a maximum of 50, okay, then smoke. If you want to live much longer, and be healthy at 70, 80 years old, you should not start smoking,” the cardiologist noted.