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Understand Why Smoking Increases Your Risk For Stroke

Smoking greatly increases your risk for stroke and stroke at a younger age. According to the Canadian Stroke Congress, smokers have strokes nearly a decade younger than non-smokers.  “Smokers have a greater chance of having more complications and recurrent strokes. Patients who have had a minor stroke are 10 times more likely to have a major stroke, especially if they continue to smoke,” said Dr. Andrew Pipe of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

Cigarettes create coronary artery disease and increase your risk for stroke in three major ways:

  • The smoke, nicotine and chemicals that are found in cigarettes weaken your arteries, which allow fatty materials, also called cholesterol to build-up on artery walls. The build-up, called plaque, narrows and hardens your arteries (atherosclerosis), which restricts blood flow to your brain. If flow is restricted enough or if plaque breaks loose and blocks blood flow, a stroke can occur.
  • Smoking cigarettes raises the levels of fatty materials, “bad” cholesterol (low density lipoprotein also called LDL) while reducing the amount of “good” cholesterol (high density lipoprotein also called HDL). The “good” cholesterol is what helps remove the “bad” cholesterol from the artery walls, so the “cleaning function is reduced.
  • Smoking cigarettes makes blood more likely to clot. Once blood clots are formed, they can travel through your bloodstream and become stuck in your brain causing a stroke.

Fortunately, regardless of your age or how long you’ve smoked, research has shown that your body will start the healing process with in 20 minutes of your last cigarette. “Within 18 months to two years of quitting, the risks of stroke are about the same as for non-smokers,” said Dr. Pipe.

 

Watch this video on atherosclerosis: Stroke Prevention

By: Stroke-Network.com Staff Writer Amy McCraken

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"Smoking greatly increases your risk for stroke and stroke at a younger age. Patients who have had a minor stroke are 10 times more likely to have a major stroke, especially if they continue to smoke"

Find Support and Quit Smoking Today
There are a number of community based smoking cessation organizations found in local hospitals and churches.

You can also find many web based smoking cessation programs, which provide online support.

 

Stroke Prevention
Manage your controllable risk factors with regular medical checks-ups. Managing the following factors will reduce your risk of stroke:
Control Blood Pressure

    Stop Smoking
    Treat Heart Disease
    Improve Diet
    Avoid excess fats
    Avoid excess sodium
    Limit Alcohol
    Maintain a Healthy Weight
    Exercise Regularly
    Treat Diabetes
    Reduce Stress

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