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BACKGROUND: Evidence about the effect of smoking on venous thromboembolism risk, generally and in the postoperative period, is limited and inconsistent. We examined the incidence of venous thromboembolism in relation to smoking habits, both in the absence of surgery and in the first 12 postoperative weeks, in a large prospective study of women in the United Kingdom. METHODS AND RESULTS: During 6 years' follow-up of 1 162 718 women (mean age 56 years), 4630 were admitted to hospital for or died of venous thromboembolism. In the absence of surgery, current smokers had a significantly increased incidence of venous thromboembolism compared with never-smokers (adjusted relative risk 1.38, 95% confidence interval 1.28-1.48), with significantly greater risks in heavier than lighter smokers (relative risks 1.47 [95% confidence interval 1.34-1.62] and 1.29 [95% confidence interval 1.17-1.42] for ≥15 versus <15 cigarettes per day). Current smokers were also more likely to have surgery than never-smokers (relative risk 1.12, 95% confidence interval 1.12-1.13). Among women who had surgery, the incidence of venous thromboembolism in the first 12 postoperative weeks was significantly greater in current than never-smokers (relative risk 1.16, 95% confidence interval 1.02-1.30). CONCLUSIONS: Venous thromboembolism incidence was increased in current smokers, both in the absence of surgery and in the 12 weeks after surgery. Smoking is another factor to consider in the assessment of venous thromboembolism risk in patients undergoing surgery.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1276 - 1282


Cohort Studies, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Incidence, Middle Aged, Postoperative Complications, Prospective Studies, Retrospective Studies, Risk Factors, Smoking, United Kingdom, Venous Thromboembolism