Stroke From Smoking Is Gender Blind

Smoking increased the risk of ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes in men and women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) There is no doubt about it — smoking is hard on the body. It doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman. Smoking cigarettes can increase anyone's risk of having a stroke

In a recent review, researchers looked at stroke rates in current smokers, former smokers and never smokers.

The results showed that the risk of stroke was similar among men and women smokers. And, fortunately, former smokers had a lower risk of stroke compared to current smokers.

"Quit smoking to lower stroke risk."

For this study, Rachel Huxley, PhD, professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, led a team of fellow scientists to research gender differences in smoking-related stroke risks.

Across the globe, 6 percent of deaths among women and 12 percent of deaths among men every year can be linked to tobacco use, the study authors estimated.

Smoking is a known risk factor for having an ischemic (blood clot) or a hemorrhagic (brain bleed) stroke. Ischemic strokes are more common, but hemorrhagic strokes are more deadly.

“Stroke is the world’s second leading cause of death and disability, accounting for 10 percent of the global disease burden...[A]pproximately 19 percent of the burden of stroke is because of current smoking,” the study authors wrote.

For this review, the researchers collected 81 medical studies that included 42,401 stroke-related events in 3,980,359 current, former and never smokers from 1966 to 2013.

Smoking rates varied quite a bit between studies. Depending upon the region and time period, rates of current smoking ranged from 1 percent to 51 percent among women and 8 percent to 59 percent among men.

The results of the study showed that current smoking increased the risk of having any kind of stroke by 83 percent in women and by 67 percent in men compared to the stroke risk in non-smokers.

Compared with non-smokers, current smokers had an increased risk of having an ischemic stroke by 54 percent in women and by 53 percent in men.

Current smokers had an increased risk of having a hemorrhagic stroke by 63 percent in women and by 22 percent in men compared with non-smokers.

Stroke risk among former smokers was 17 percent higher in women and 8 percent higher in men compared to never smokers. 

The authors determined that the benefits from quitting smoking were similar for both men and women.

“Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for stroke for both men and women, but fortunately, quitting smoking is a highly effective way to lower your stroke risk,” Dr. Huxley said in a press statement.

This study was published in August in Stroke.

Dr. Peters received funding support from a Niels Stensen Fellowship. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
August 22, 2013
Last Updated:
August 22, 2013