Smoking doubles your risk of stroke. The more you smoke the greater your risk of stroke.
- Tobacco in every form is very harmful to your health. Exposure to second-hand smoke is also dangerous.
- Smokers have twice the risk of having a stroke than non-smokers.
- 14% of Australians aged 15 years and older are daily smokers. This percentage is higher in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population (in 2012–13, 40% of those aged 15 years and older were daily smokers).
What is stroke and how does smoking increase the risk?
Stroke strikes the brain and can change lives in an instant. A stroke can happen in two ways – either there is a blood clot or plaque that blocks a blood vessel, or a blood vessel in the brain breaks or ruptures.
Smoking increases your risk of stroke by increasing blood pressure and reducing oxygen in the blood. Smoking also increases the stickiness of the blood. This further increases the risk of blood clots forming.
Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 toxic chemicals which are deposited on the lungs or absorbed into the bloodstream. Some of these chemicals damage blood vessel walls, leading to atherosclerosis (narrowing and hardening of the arteries). This increases the chance of blood clots forming in the arteries to the brain and heart.
What if you've experienced a stroke or TIA?
After an initial stroke, continued smoking increases the risk of another stroke. The more someone smokes, the higher the risk. Continued smoking after a stroke also increases the risk of dying from stroke or heart attack.
If you have had a stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack) you need to stop smoking immediately.
What are the benefits of stopping smoking?
People who stop smoking after a first stroke lower their risk of having another stroke. Stopping smoking will also lower your risk of dying from stroke or having a heart attack.
When you stop smoking, you no longer inhale toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke, which would otherwise enter your bloodstream and damage blood vessels as well as increase your risk of blood clots. Within a month, your blood pressure returns to its normal range. The risk of heart attack and stroke starts to drop immediately. The risk can drop by as much as half after one year.
There are immediate health benefits from quitting smoking. They include:
- Within a month after a person stops smoking, blood pressure returns to its normal range.
- The risk of heart attack and stroke starts to drop immediately after a person stops using tobacco products, and can drop by as much as half after one year.
- After fifteen years your risk of stroke and heart attack is almost the same as that of a person who has never smoked.
Learn more about stroke and smoking with Quit’s pamphlet The benefits of stopping smoking for people who have experienced stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
How to QUIT
It is never too late to stop smoking. Talk to your doctor about quitting.
There are programs to help you quit smoking: