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Smoking Ups Stroke Risk

Men who light up increase chances of hemorrhagic stroke, study finds

FRIDAY, March 28, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Men who smoke are at much greater risk for hemorrhagic stroke than nonsmokers or men who have kicked the habit.

So says a study in the March 27 online issue of Stroke.

The study, led by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, found male smokers were 1.7 times more likely to have a hemorrhagic stroke if they smoked fewer than 20 cigarettes a day and 2.4 time more likely if they smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day, compared to men who never smoked.

Compared to men who never smoked, men who were past smokers had no increased risk for hemorrhagic stroke. The study wasn't able to measure how quickly the risk of hemorrhagic stroke declined after someone quit smoking.

The long-term prospective study examined the occurrence of stroke in 22,022 male doctors over a period of almost 18 years.

Smoking may damage arterial walls, making arteries more prone to rupture, the researchers suggest. Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by ruptured blood vessels bleeding into the brain. This kind of stroke accounts for 12 percent of all strokes, and 37.5 percent of hemorrhagic strokes result in death within 30 days.

Smoking is already recognized as a risk factor for ischemic stroke -- the most common type -- which is caused when the blood supply to the brain is blocked. Smoking is also associated with subarachnoid hemorrhage. That's a stroke where bleeding occurs in the space between the brain and the skull.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about stroke.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, March 28, 2003
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