Dr Tom Smith: Patched up

Do you approve of skin patches to help people stop smoking? Are they dangerous to the heart?

I approve of anything that helps people stop smoking safely. Patches seem safe and effective, provided you want to stop. But understand that if you are wearing a patch and still smoke, you are delivering a lot of nicotine into your body. Although there is no proof that this might lead to a heart attack, if you have angina you may be increasing your risk.

I often get an incredibly cold right hand, while my left hand remains at a 'normal' temperature. The same thing happens with my feet. I'm male, 23 and have OK blood pressure. Any ideas?

If the problem were in the hands only, it could be easily explained. You might have pressure on the sensory nerves leading into that hand - either in the wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome), elbow, shoulder or neck. One unusual cause is an extra rib in the neck, putting pressure on the nerve as it leaves the spine. The problem comes when you mention the feet. That isolates any nerve trouble to the spinal cord itself - a much less common condition, and you would need a neurologist to pinpoint the cause. It's possible you have a form of Raynaud's syndrome, in which the small blood vessels in the skin go into spasm, leading to changes in how warm or cold you feel. If that were the case, your fingers would go white when cold. As you didn't mention a colour change, I presume it doesn't happen like that. So give your doctor all the details on the times you feel the cold.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.


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