Smokers who have a stroke are much more likely to have another one if they don’t quit or at least cut back, a Chinese study suggests, according to Reuters.
Smoking has long been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and serious cardiac events like heart attacks and strokes. But the new study sheds light on how smoking influences the risk of a second stroke in patients who already had one.
Among the 3,069 stroke survivors in the study, 1,475, or 48 percent, were current smokers and another nine percent were former smokers.
Among the current smokers, 908, or 62 percent, managed to quit within a few months after their stroke.
As expected, smokers had a higher risk of a second stroke than people who never smoked at all, even if they managed to quit after their first stroke. However, smokers who did quit after that first stroke were 29 percent less likely to have a second one than people who kept smoking.
“Smoking after a stroke has the same effects on the body as before the first stroke,” said Allan Hackshaw, a researcher at University College London in the U.K. who wasn’t involved in the study.
“It can lead to problems with blood flow in the brain, and contribute to clots being formed in the blood vessels - and either of these increase the chance of having a stroke,” Hackshaw said by email. “Cutting back would reduce the risk a bit, but the study shows that quitting completely has a large reduction in the risk of a second stroke.”