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Surgery is a good teachable moment to help smokers quit

A new review from Denmark finds that programmess to help people quit smoking before surgery can reduce the risk of complications afterwards.

The fact alone that a person has surgery booked increases their chance for quitting smoking successfully. For smokers who want to quit and who receive preoperative stop-smoking support, this can be an optimum time.David O. Warner, M.D., a professor of anesthesiology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, leads the efforts by the American Society of Anesthesiologists to promote smoking interventions in the period right before and after surgery.

"Having a major surgical procedure itself almost doubles the chances that smokers will quit even in the absence of interventions," Warner said. "In our research we have found that approximately one in eight successful quit attempts in older Americans is associated with having a surgical procedure, proving that for smokers, having surgery can save your life in more ways than one."

The review looked at the effects of smoking cessation support, including nicotine replacement therapy and weekly counselling four to eight weeks before surgery. The researchers concluded that interventions helped people stop smoking in both the short and long term. The review examined the success of smoking intervention before surgery and in the next 12 months.
The review comprised eight studies involving 1,156 people in Denmark, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and Sweden between 2002 and 2009. In seven studies, intervention resulted in a significant decrease in smoking before surgery.

"Most published studies intervene between four and eight weeks prior to surgery, but there are good physiological reasons to think that shorter periods of preoperative abstinence may be beneficial as well," Warner said. "Post operative abstinence is also important especially to prevent complications such as wound infections."

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