Smoking Tied to Higher Post-Op Medical Costs

January 2, 2014

THURSDAY, Jan. 2, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Former and current smokers who undergo surgery face higher health care costs in the year after their procedure than people who never smoked, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic noted that smoking cigarettes increases the risk for complications following surgery. They estimated smoking-related complications could add up to $17 billion in direct medical costs each year in the United States alone.

The study, published online Jan. 1 in JAMA Surgery and led by Dr. David Warner, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., involved patients who underwent surgery between April 2008 and December 2009.

The participants were divided into three groups: 678 pairs were made up to compare current smokers to never smokers; 665 pairs compared current and former smokers; and 945 pairs compared former smokers and patients who never smoked.

In comparing the pairs of surgical patients, the investigators found little difference in the costs for the initial hospitalization for surgery among those who never smoked, current smokers and former smokers, they noted in a journal news release.

The researchers revealed, however, in the year after surgery, direct medical costs were an estimated $400 higher for current smokers. Medical costs in the 12 months after surgery were also $273 higher for former smokers.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about the health effects of smoking.


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