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Smoking increases hospitalizations, costs of peripheral artery disease

Researchers say clinicians should focus on

An analysis of medical costs associated with atherosclerotic lower extremity , a dangerous condition in which a buildup of plaque in the arteries restricts blood flow to the legs and feet, found that health care costs in one year were $18,000 higher in smokers with the condition than non-smokers with the condition.

Within one year, 49 percent of the tobacco users with in the study were hospitalized, a hospitalization rate 35 percent higher than nonusers.

The study published online today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found smokers are more likely to be hospitalized for leg events, heart attack and coronary heart disease related to atherosclerotic peripheral artery disease, known as PAD, than non-smokers with PAD.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School, led by Sue Duval, PhD, analyzed claims data for 22,203 individuals with PAD from 2011 from the largest health plan in Minnesota.

An accompanying editorial by Elizabeth Jackson, M.D., MPH, of the University of Michigan Health System, said the study highlights the urgent need for smoking cessation among PAD patients and getting patients to quit can improve care and save significant health dollars over the long term.