Most people have never heard of the vasculitis Buerger disease. It doesn't hit home...until it does.
So what is Buerger disease and why should you care?
Quite simply, if you don't smoke and you don't know anyone who does, feel free to ignore the rest of this commentary.
But for those of you dwindling (?) numbers of smokers out there, and your loved ones who either smoke, are too uncomfortable to save your life by convincing you to stop smoking, or are just sick of living as secondhand smokers, read on.
Vasculitis is an inflammation of the arteries.
Buerger disease is an inflammation of the medium-sized arteries of the hands and feet. It typically manifests in young men, between the ages of 30-45, and is very closely associated with heavy smoking. Buerger disease has also been associated with cocaine and cannabis abuse as well as smokeless forms of tobacco.
The cornerstone of treatment is "strict abstinence from exposure to all tobacco-containing products. This is the only proven strategy to prevent progression of the disease. In a large series from the Cleveland Clinic of 89 patients with Buerger disease, 43 of them stop smoking. Of those who stopped smoking, only two (5%) required major amputations, as compared with 22 (42%) in those who continue to smoke. Other therapies in patients who are unwilling or unable to abstain from tobacco are futile. Even secondhand smoking and passive exposure to tobacco must be avoided."
Source: "Diagnosis and Endovascular Treatment of Vasculitides," Techniques in Vascular and Interventional Radiology, Volume 17, Issue 4, December 2014.