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PLoS Med. 2013;10(9):e1001515. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001515. Epub 2013 Sep 17.

Current and former smoking and risk for venous thromboembolism: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Department of Cardiology, First Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China.



Smoking is a well-established risk factor for atherosclerotic disease, but its role as an independent risk factor for venous thromboembolism (VTE) remains controversial. We conducted a meta-analysis to summarize all published prospective studies and case-control studies to update the risk for VTE in smokers and determine whether a dose-response relationship exists.


We performed a literature search using MEDLINE (source PubMed, January 1, 1966 to June 15, 2013) and EMBASE (January 1, 1980 to June 15, 2013) with no restrictions. Pooled effect estimates were obtained by using random-effects meta-analysis. Thirty-two observational studies involving 3,966,184 participants and 35,151 VTE events were identified. Compared with never smokers, the overall combined relative risks (RRs) for developing VTE were 1.17 (95% CI 1.09-1.25) for ever smokers, 1.23 (95% CI 1.14-1.33) for current smokers, and 1.10 (95% CI 1.03-1.17) for former smokers, respectively. The risk increased by 10.2% (95% CI 8.6%-11.8%) for every additional ten cigarettes per day smoked or by 6.1% (95% CI 3.8%-8.5%) for every additional ten pack-years. Analysis of 13 studies adjusted for body mass index (BMI) yielded a relatively higher RR (1.30; 95% CI 1.24-1.37) for current smokers. The population attributable fractions of VTE were 8.7% (95% CI 4.8%-12.3%) for ever smoking, 5.8% (95% CI 3.6%-8.2%) for current smoking, and 2.7% (95% CI 0.8%-4.5%) for former smoking. Smoking was associated with an absolute risk increase of 24.3 (95% CI 15.4-26.7) cases per 100,000 person-years.


Cigarette smoking is associated with a slightly increased risk for VTE. BMI appears to be a confounding factor in the risk estimates. The relationship between VTE and smoking has clinical relevance with respect to individual screening, risk factor modification, and the primary and secondary prevention of VTE. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.

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