Smoking may double risk for stroke and lower the age of stroke patients
Compared to non smokers, smokers face higher risk of stroke and they are likely to have stroke sooner, according to a study presented at the Canadian Stroke Congress, Ottawa last month.
The research team, including neurologists from the University of Ottawa, Dr Mike Sharma, Dr Andrew Pipe and Dr Robert REID investigated and analysed the association between stroke and smoking behavior from January 2009 to March 2011.
Having studied 982 stroke patients (718 non-smokers and 264 smokers) at an Ottawa prevention clinic, it was found that the average age of stroke patients were 58 for smokers and 67 for non-smokers. After excluding and adjusting the gender, socio-economic factors, they found that the smoking stroke patients are almost a decade younger than non-smoking patients and their risk of stroke caused by ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke is two and four times higher respectively. In addition, smokers have a greater chance of having more complications and recurrent strokes. Patients who had a minor stroke are ten times more likely to have a major stroke, especially if they continue to smoke.
Smoking causes a build-up of debris inside the blood vessels, a condition called atherosclerosis, and it contributes to a higher likelihood of clots forming. Once cigarette smoke is inhaled, the blood vessels will lose its elasticity and introduce higher blood pressure hence increase the risk of stroke.
“If smokers can quit cigarette smoking for 18 to 24 months, the risk of stroke or heart diseases drops to the non-smoker levels.” Dr Pipe said.
“Stroke is preventable” said Dr Mike Sharma. “This study highlights the key role of smoking on stroke. In addition to smoking cessation, healthy diet, physical activities and control of blood pressure reduce the risk of stroke significantly.”
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, 37,000 Canadians die prematurely each year due to tobacco use.