By Margarita Nahapetyan
Canadian scientists found yet another reason for smokers to quit the bad habit. According to the new evidence, people who smoke are three times more likely to suffer strokes or mini-strokes than their non-smoking counterparts.
In addition to this, researchers from Ottawa stroke prevention clinic found that smokers tend to have strokes almost ten years earlier when compared to those who abstain from cigarettes. The investigators analyzed more than 950 stroke patients who were each admitted to the hospital after having suffered a mini-stroke, a suspected mini-stroke or an actual stroke. Among these patients approximately 700 were smokers and just 250 who did not smoke.
When the average age of stroke patients was calculated, it was revealed that smokers were around 58 years of age when they had a stroke, and the average age of non-smoking participants was 67 years. Besides, individuals who smoked were more likely to develop complications after their stroke, including a recurrent stroke. Those who have had a minor stroke were ten times more likely to have a major stroke, especially if they did not quit smoking.
A stroke or brain attack occurs when blood flow to the brain gets blocked by a blood clot - ischemic stroke, or by a rupture of a blood vessel - hemorrhagic stroke. Smoking results in a build-up of debris on the inside of blood vessels, a condition known as atherosclerosis, and there is a great chance that it will lead to the formation of blood clots, said a new study's principal investigator, Dr. Andrew Pipe, MD, chief of the division of prevention and rehabilitation at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and a professor in the faculty of medicine at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Pipe added that it has always been known that “the more you smoke, the more you stroke,” but after the new results it become clear that “the more you smoke, the younger you stroke."
However, researchers left the smokers some good news, stating that the risk of having a stroke is brought down to the same level as it is with non-smoking individuals within eighteen months to two years of giving up the habit. But, besides quitting smoking, smokers need to concentrate on reducing other risk factors for stroke which include diabetes, high blood pressure, being extremely overweight or obese, high cholesterol levels and sedentary lifestyle.
The investigators addressed the government to maximally restrict access to cigarettes in order to at least bring down the number of strokes, as well as creating better support for individuals who really desire to quit smoking. According to the experts, the findings of this study provide yet another important chunk of evidence about how essential it is to help smokers to kick the habit.
Dr. Pipe and his team also called on neurology community to address smoking in stroke patients, saying that it is a shame that Canadians continue to die in large numbers from heart-related diseases, cancers, stroke and a number of other conditions for which the tobacco industry is responsible.
The new findings were presented at the Canadian Stroke Congress in Ottawa.