Smokers at higher risk for second stroke

MONASH (AUS) — Stroke survivors who smoke have a greater risk of another stroke, heart attack, or death than those who have never smoked.

For a new study, 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. Risks were higher for smokers and former smokers when compared to patients who were never smokers.

In contrast to those who had never smoked, smokers who suffered a stroke had a 30 percent greater risk of death, additional strokes or heart attack. Smokers who survived the first 28 days after stroke, had a 42 percent higher risk while past smokers had an 18 percent higher risk.


Smoking appears to have a greater impact on younger patients, says Amanda Thrift, a professor at Monash University’s Southern Clinical School.

“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. 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.”

Published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, the study focused on patients who survived the most common type of stroke, the ischemic stroke that is usually caused by a blood clot in an artery that supplies blood to the brain.

In other findings, the researchers also found that current smokers, who survived the first 28 days after stroke, had a 23 percent 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 National Health and Medical Research Council, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Foundation for High Blood Pressure Research, and the National Stroke Foundation funded the research.

Source: Monash University