(dailyRx News) Smokers aren't just at an added risk for strokes. They're at risk at risk for having them up to a decade earlier than those who don't smoke.
Smoking can cause a build up of debris inside blood vessels, which can increase the likelihood of clots forming. Smokers are at twice the risk of an ischemic stroke, which is caused by a dislodged blood clot, and at four times the risk of hemorrhagic stroke caused by a ruptured blood vessel as compared to non-smokers.
Dr. Andrew Pipe, a doctor with the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and author of the study, said the study provides more evidence about why individuals should stop smoking. He said it also alerts neurologists of the importance of addressing smoking in stroke patients.
Researchers studied 982 stroke patients of which 264 were smokers between January 2009 and March 2011. They discovered that the average age of stroke patients who smoked was 58 as compared to 67 for non-smokers. They also found that smokers have a higher chance of having complications and recurrent strokes.
When an individual stops smoking, their risk of stroke and heart disease decreases. Within two years of quitting their risk of stroke is about the same as non-smokers, Dr. Pipe said.
Dr. Pipe said initiatives including restricting tobacco access to minors, ensuring it is appropriately priced and helping smokers quit could reduce the health risks.
"Stroke is preventable," said Dr. Sharma, deputy director of the Canadian Stroke Network. "This study highlights the sizeable role smoking has on stroke. Quitting smoking, controlling blood pressure, following a healthy diet and being physically active significantly reduce the risk of stroke."
The research was recently presented at the Canadian Stroke Congress.