Smoking Doubles Your Risk of Stroke graphic cigarette warning front of packSmoking Doubles Your Risk of Stroke graphic cigarette warning back of pack
Front of Cigarette Pack
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Back of Cigarette Pack
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Smoking is a major cause of strokes.1,2 Smokers are four times more likely to have a stroke compared with non-smokers.3 This risk is particularly elevated in younger people.2 Non-smokers living with smokers are also more likely to suffer a stroke.3

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain suddenly becomes blocked (ischaemic stroke) or bleeds (haemorrhagic stroke).4 This results in part of the brain dying and causes loss of function of that part of the brain. A stroke may lead to death or affect functions such as movement of body parts, vision, swallowing and communication.4,5

Ischaemic strokes are generally as a result of atherosclerosis in the carotid arteries and their branches.6 Atherosclerosis occurs when there is a narrowing and clogging of the arteries which reduces blood supply, and the amount of oxygen available, throughout the body.7 Smoking cigarettes is known to contribute to the development of atherosclerosis. The more cigarettes you smoke the greater the development of carotid artery atherosclerosis8 and the higher the risk of having a stroke.9

Some people experience a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) before a stroke. TIA's are sometimes called 'mini-strokes' and are important predictors of stroke.4,5 A TIA produces temporary stroke-like symptoms that leaves no residual signs. One in three people who have had a TIA will go on to have a stroke and another one in three will have repeated TIAs.4,5

Stroke is the second largest single cause of death in Australia. In 2004, 12,041 people died (9.1% of all deaths) as a result of stroke.10 There are approximately 40,000 – 48,000 stroke events among Australians each year4,5 and approximately a third of people will die within a year of having a stroke.5,11

In 2003 there were approximately 346,700 Australians who had suffered a stroke at some time. Of these, 282,600 had a disability.4

Your risk of stroke decreases after quitting. Between five and 15 years after quitting your risk of having a stroke is the same as a non-smoker.7

Also see the fact sheet Smoking clogs your arteries for more information on atherosclerosis.

Decided to quit? For help, talk to your doctor or pharmacist, call the Quitline on 131 848 or visit the Quitline web site.

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Sources
  1. Aldoori M I and Rahman S H. Smoking and stroke: a causative role. BMJ 1998; 317; 962-963.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A report of the Surgeon General. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, National Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2004. www.cdc.gov/tobacco/sgr/sgr_2004/index.htm (This website link was valid at the time of submission)
  3. Bonita R, Duncan J, Truelsen T, Jackson R T, and Beaglehole R. Passive smoking as well as active smoking increases the risk of acute stroke. Tob. Control 1999; 8; 156-160. (This website link was valid at the time of submission)
  4. AIHW: Senses S. 2006. How we manage stroke in Australia. AIHW Cat. No. CVD 31. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/cvd/hmsa/hmsa.pdf
  5. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), 2004. Heart, stroke and vascular diseases – Australian facts 2004. AIHW Cat. No. CVD 27. Canberra: AIHW and National Heart Foundation of Australia (Cardiovascular series No. 22). http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/cvd/hsvd04/
  6. American Council on Science and Health. Cigarettes: What the warning label doesn't tell you. Second edition. New York, American Council on Science and Health, 2003.
  7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: what it means to you. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, National Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2004. www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/sgr_2004/index.htm
  8. Dempsey RJ, Moore RW. Amount of smoking independently predicts carotid artery atherosclerosis severity. Stroke 1992;23:693-696. http://stroke.ahajournals.org/cgi/reprint/23/5/693
  9. Hankey GJ. Smoking and risk of stroke. Journal of Cardiovascular Risk 1999;6:207-211.
  10. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006. Causes of Death, Australia, 2004 Cat. No. 3303.0, viewed 15 March 2006.
  11. AIHW: O'Brien K 2005. Living dangerously: Australians with multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Bulletin No. 24. AIHW Cat. No. AUS 57. Canberra: AIHW. www.aihw.gov.au/publications/aus/bulletin24/bulletin24.pdf

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