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Among stroke survivors, smokers fare worse

Sunday October 28, 2012
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Ischemic stroke survivors who smoke put themselves at a greater risk of additional strokes, myocardial infarction and death than those who never smoked, according to a study.

Those who quit smoking before their stroke also had less risk of poor outcomes than current smokers, Australian researchers reported Oct. 25 on the website of Stroke, an American Heart Association journal.

The researchers tracked 1,589 patients who experienced a first or recurrent stroke in 1996-99. They followed the patients for 10 years, using medical records and in-person and telephone interviews, and tracked demographics, deaths, recurrent strokes and MI.

Compared to those who never smoked, those who smoked when they had a stroke were 30% more likely to have a poor outcome. Among those who survived the first 28 days after stroke, current smokers had a 42% higher risk of poorer outcomes. Former smokers had an 18% higher risk.

Compared to past smokers, among those who survived the first 28 days after stroke, current smokers had a 23% higher risk of poor outcomes.

"This research provides fresh incentive to quit smoking now or never start because it shows smokers fare far worse after strokes than non-smokers," Amanda Thrift, PhD, the study’s lead researcher and a professor of epidemiology at Monash University in Victoria, Australia, said in a news release.

In the study, those living in disadvantaged areas were much more likely to smoke, with 52% of current smokers belonging to the most disadvantaged group, compared with 31% of those who never smoked.

"We also found smoking had its greatest impact on younger patients," Thrift said. "The 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, targeting this group could yield greater benefits with fewer dollars spent."

The study abstract is available at http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/early/2012/10/25/STROKEAHA.112.668905.abstract.


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