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Stroke Patients Who Smoke Increase Their Risk of Heart Attack, Death

Update Date: Oct 26, 2012 09:39 AM EDT

Smoking is never recommended. But people who have survived a stroke should stay even farther away from smoke, as a new study suggests that stroke survivors who smoke put themselves at high risks of additional strokes, heart attack or even death, when compared to those who never smoked.

According to the research, people who quit smoking before a stroke are also at a lesser risk when compared to those who continue after an attack.

For the study, researchers in Melbourne followed 1,589 stroke patients, who have had one or more strokes in 1996-99.

They tracked the patients for 10 years, and found that when compared to non-smokers, those who smoked when they had a stroke were 30 percent more likely to have a poor outcome.

 Apparently, it was found that among those who survived, in the first 28 days after the stroke, current smokers had a 42 percent higher risk of poorer outcomes. Those who quit before stroke were found to have an 18 percent higher risk of poorer outcomes compared to non smokers.

"This research provides fresh incentive to quit smoking now or never start because it shows smokers fare far worse after strokes than non-smokers," said Amanda Thrift, Ph.D., the study's lead researcher and professor of epidemiology for the Department of Medicine in the Southern Clinical School at Monash University in Clayton, Victoria, Australia.

The study further revealed that people belonging to disadvantaged areas were much more likely to smoke, with 52 percent of current smokers being from such areas and only 31 non-smokers being from there.

"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 was focused around patients who had had an ischemic stroke (caused by blood clot), which is the most common type of stroke.

This research did not link smoking to poorer long-term outcomes.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability in the United States. The study was published in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke.

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