Smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day triples your risk of brain haemorrhage, and the risk is still high even after quitting, say Korean researchers.
A subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH) is a type of stroke caused by bleeding in and around the brain. The majority of SAH’s occur when a bulge in a weakened artery, called an aneurysm, bursts in the brain. Only around 65% of patients will survive a subarachnoid haemorrhage, and survivors often face a slow recovery and disability.
A subarachnoid haemorrhage is caused by bleeding in and around the brain
Smoking is known to be a risk factor for SAH. Smoking thickens the blood and increases blood pressure, raising the risk of a brain bleed. It also leads to permanent changes in the structure of artery walls.
Researchers in Korea recently investigated 426 cases of subarachnoid haemorrhage between 2002 and 2004. Patients were compared with a group of 426 people matched for age and sex who had not experienced a brain bleed.
After adjusting for other risk factors including salt intake, weight and family history, smokers were on average 2.84 times more likely to suffer a brain haemorrhage than non-smokers.
Whilst giving up tobacco for at least 5 years reduced the overall risk of SAH to 59 per cent, people with a history of heavy smoking were still 2.3 times more likely to have a brain haemorrhage than those who had never smoked.
Heavy smokers are defined as those who smoke 20 or more cigarettes a day.
Writing in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, the research team from Seoul National University Hospital, said: “We have demonstrated that cigarette smoking increases the risk of SAH, but smoking cessation decreases the risk in a time dependent manner, although this beneficial effect may be diminished in heavy smokers.
“To forestall tragic SAH events, our results call for more global and vigorous efforts for people to stop smoking.”
Smokers are usually charged higher premiums on their health insurance, income protection insurance and life insurance policies because they are more likely to make a claim. To be defined as a non-smoker you have to have gone tobacco free for a minimum of 12 months.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012