Study: Quitting smoking helps surgical outcomes

Smoking cessation at least one year before major surgery eliminates the increased risk of postoperative mortality and decreases the risk of arterial and respiratory events that are evident in current smokers, according to a study.

A total of 125,192 current and 78,763 past smokers from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database who underwent a major surgery were included in the study, which was published June 19 on the website of JAMA Surgery.

Khaled M. Musallam, MD, PhD, and colleagues with the American University of Beirut Medical Center in Lebanon assessed 30-day postoperative death, arterial events, venous events and respiratory events.

They found that current smokers had a higher risk than past smokers for arterial events and respiratory events, but not for venous events. The higher mortality risk for current smokers was evident even with a smoking history of less than 10 pack-years (the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day multiplied by the number of years the patient smoked).

Past smoking was not associated with an increased mortality risk after surgery. Regarding arterial and respiratory events, smokers who had quit at least one year before remained at increased risk, but the effect was milder than that observed in current smokers.

“Our study should increase awareness of the detrimental effects of smoking — and the benefits of its cessation — on morbidity and mortality in the surgical setting,” the authors wrote.

Read the study abstract:

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