A British man has been refused hospital treatment unless he gives up smoking.
Mr Frederick Smith, 60, says he is worried his condition could worsen while he waits and has criticised a Lincoln County hospital which is refusing to treat him until he stops smoking.
The hospital has told him he must give up his 15-a-day habit for six months before he can be treated.
According to Mr Smith the narrowing of the arteries in his leg could be caused by a number of things, and not just smoking.
But a spokeswoman for Lincoln County Hospital said treating smokers sent out the message they condoned the habit and to proceed with treatment whilst patients smoke gives the wrong message.
Mr Smith says he just wants to know what is causing his problem and is concerned he could be in a wheelchair in six months’ time, unable to walk, or even lose a leg, or his life.
He feels it would be far more economical to treat his problem now.
Surgeon Andrew Lamerton had written to Mr Smith advising him to stop smoking suggesting that might lead to an improvement in his symptoms.
Lamerton says that unless the condition was limb-threatening this would always be the preferred option and the best course of action for the patient, helping them to avoid medical or surgical intervention.
Mr Lamerton says that in 75% of patients who take his advice and stop smoking for six months there is an improvement in symptoms and no other treatment is necessary.
Revision date: July 7, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD