In a study detailed in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, researchers recruited 1,589 stroke survivors between 1996 and 1999 and examined the occurrence of deaths, recurrent strokes and heart attacks over a 10-year period. They found smokers and former smokers who suffered stroke had greater risk of death, multiple strokes or heart attack when compared to patients who were never smokers.
In contrast to those who had never smoked, the authors found smokers who suffered stroke had a 30 per cent greater risk of death, additional strokes or heart attack. Smokers who survived the first 28 days after stroke, had a 42 per cent higher risk while past smokers had an 18 per cent higher risk.
Principal Investigator, Professor Amanda Thrift of Monash University’s Southern Clinical School said smoking appeared to have a greater impact on younger patients and cautioned that smokers could be placing themselves at risk.
“People who smoked in our study were younger, more often male, and more often from a disadvantaged background. Although we want everyone to give up smoking, raising awareness among this group is important,” Professor Thrift said.
“There are benefits of smoking cessation, with ex-smokers appearing to have a lesser risk of recurrent vascular events than current smokers.
“We have long known that people who smoke have a greater chance of having a stroke. What we now know is that not only are smokers at greater risk of stroke, but that when they suffer a stroke they have poorer long-term outcomes.”
The study was focused on patients who survived the most common type of stroke, the ischemic stroke. The ischemic stroke is usually caused by a blood clot in an artery that supplies blood to your brain.
In other findings, the researchers also found that current smokers, who survived the first 28 days after stroke, had a 23 per cent greater risk of poorer outcomes than past smokers.
Stroke is the second leading cause of death in Australia behind coronary heart disease and is a leading cause of disability amongst adults. An Australian has a stroke around every 10 minutes.
The study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Foundation for High Blood Pressure Research and the National Stroke Foundation.