Women Smokers Married to Smokers at Higher Stroke Risk

It's a six-fold greater risk than for women smokers with nonsmoking spouses, study says

THURSDAY, Aug. 4, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Women smokers whose spouses also smoke have a nearly six times greater risk of stroke than women smokers with nonsmoking spouses, a new report reveals.

"There is evidence suggesting that your exposure to secondhand smoke can increase your chances of getting heart disease. We asked if that was also true for stroke," study lead author Dr. Adnan I. Qureshi, professor and director of the cerebrovascular program in the Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Research Center, at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, said in a prepared statement.

He and his colleagues analyzed data from 5,379 women. Of these, 2,347 were current or former smokers and 1,904 of those were married to smokers.

"We found that cigarette-smoking women with cigarette-smoking spouses had almost a six times higher relative risk of total stroke than cigarette-smoking women with nonsmoking spouses," Qureshi said.

Women smokers with smoking spouses had 5.7 times higher total stroke risk and 4.8 times greater risk for ischemic stroke -- caused by a blood clot that blocks blood flow to the brain.

The study found that nonsmoking women with smoking spouses didn't have a significantly higher incidence of stroke compared to nonsmoking women with nonsmoking spouses. However, smoking spouses may take steps to avoid exposing their nonsmoking partners to smoke, Qureshi said.

"If physicians are to make a real impact on reducing stroke risk among their patients, they should not only address their patients' smoking habits but also those of their spouses or partners," Qureshi said.

The study appears in the Aug. 5 issue of the journal Stroke.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about secondhand smoke.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Aug. 4, 2005
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