Not only are smokers twice as likely to have strokes, they are almost a decade younger than non-smokers when they have them, according to a study presented October 3 at the Canadian Stroke Congress.
Between January 2009 and March 2011, researchers studied 982 stroke patients (264 smokers and 718 non-smokers) at an Ottawa prevention clinic. They found the average age of stroke patients who smoked was 58, compared to age 67 for non-smokers.
“The information from this study provides yet another important piece of evidence about the significance of helping people stop smoking,” said Dr. Andrew Pipe of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, one of the study’s authors. “It also alerts the neurology community to the importance of addressing smoking in stroke patients.”
Smoking causes a build-up of debris on the inside of blood vessels, a condition called atherosclerosis, and it contributes to a higher likelihood of clots forming, said Dr. Pipe.
The Ottawa Hospital study, led by principal investigators Dr. Mike Sharma and Dr. Robert Reid, found smokers have double the risk of a stroke caused by a dislodged blood clot (ischemic stroke) and four times the risk of a stroke caused by a ruptured blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke) than the non-smoking population.
In addition, smokers have a greater chance of having more complications and recurrent strokes. Patients who have had a minor stroke are 10 times more likely to have a major stroke, especially if they continue to smoke, said Dr. Pipe.
Stroke is preventable.
So, quit smoking, follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly – for your health’s sake.