Brain Bleeds & Smoking

Subarachnoid hemorrhage risk higher in smokers

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Smoking habits can have a number of adverse health effects. There is good news—when you finally quit smoking, you may also reduce the chances of life-threatening brain bleeds.

A recent study compared burst brain aneurysm patients to healthy people. Results found that smokers had a higher risk of brain bleeds than non-smokers.

"Quit smoking today!"

Chi Kyung Kim, MD, from the Department of Neurology at Seoul National University Hospital in Seoul, Korea, led the investigation.

Smoking is a known risk factor for a burst cerebral aneurysm from a weakened brain artery. This type of brain bleed is called a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH).

Blood collects between the brain and the outer tissue of the brain, and left untreated SAH can be fatal.

For the study, 426 SAH cases from 33 hospitals in Korea were matched with 426 controls.

A total of 37 percent of the SAH patients compared to 24 percent of controls were current smokers.

SAH risk increased in relation to how much a person smoked.

People who had quit smoking 5 years or more had a 59 percent less chance of SAH.

People who smoked more than a pack a day were 2.3 times more likely to have a SAH compared to never-smokers.

Study results show a direct link between the amount a person smokes and their risk for a SAH.

Authors concluded, “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 previously heavy smokers.”

This study was published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. No funding information was provided and no conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 10, 2012
Last Updated:
September 10, 2012