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Women Smokers at Higher Risk for Brain Bleed

Posted by Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter

Strokes characterized by bleeding inside the lining of the brain are more common among smokers, especially women, researchers report.

These serious strokes—called subarachnoid hemorrhages—are eight times more common among women who smoke more than a pack a day compared to nonsmokers, Finnish researchers found. They’re three times more common among men who smoke the same amount.

Even light smoking tripled a woman’s risk for this type of stroke, the study found.

“There is no safe level of smoking, and naturally, the best option is never to start,” said lead researcher Dr. Joni Lindbohm of the University of Helsinki.

“The message for policymakers is that by implementing effective strategies against smoking, they can considerably reduce the burden of subarachnoid hemorrhage,” said Lindbohm, who specializes in neurosurgery and public health.

Subarachnoid hemorrhages account for about three percent of all strokes, said Dr. Ralph Sacco, chairman of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

These strokes often affect younger people and “can be quite devastating in terms of disability and death, with fatality rates around one in five,” said Sacco, who wasn’t involved in the study.
This type of stroke usually results from a bleeding aneurysm in the brain. An aneurysm is a small weak spot in a blood vessel that can burst at any time.

For the study, Lindbohm and colleagues collected data on nearly 66,000 adults listed in Finnish national surveys since 1972. Participants were followed for an average of 21 years, until they had a first stroke, died, or until the end of 2011.

The researchers found that among light smokers—one to 10 cigarettes a day—women were three times more likely to have subarachnoid hemorrhage, and men were twice as likely to have one compared to nonsmokers.

Among those who smoked 11 to 20 cigarettes a day, women were four times more likely and men two times more likely to suffer this type of stroke, the investigators found.

But those who quit smoking significantly reduced their odds of having a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

After six months without smoking, their risk fell to the level of nonsmokers, the researchers reported.
Although subarachnoid hemorrhage is more common among women than men, the reasons why are unclear, Lindbohm and Sacco said. Lindbohm believes the elevated risk in women largely comes down to the harms of smoking.

The link between smoking and these strokes didn’t come as a surprise, Sacco noted. “The association between cigarette smoking and subarachnoid hemorrhage has been known for years,” he said.
“Although risks do rise with age, it is an important cause of stroke in the young,” he added.

As with other strokes, some factors likely increase the risk of developing an aneurysm that eventually ruptures and causes a subarachnoid hemorrhage, he explained.

“Cigarette smoking and high blood pressure are two important modifiable risk factors for subarachnoid hemorrhage,” Sacco said. “This study adds more evidence to the call to the public to never smoke, and control their blood pressure to avoid this type of stroke.”

Lindbohm said that heavy-smoking females with unruptured aneurysms in their brain are a high-risk population, and their aneurysms should be treated.

Facts about Smoking and Stroke Risk

 

Fact: Smoking puts you at risk for having a stroke, or brain attack.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. When you stop smoking, you greatly reduce your chances of having a stroke.

Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood, causing the heart to work harder and allowing blood clots to form more easily. Smoking also increases the amount of build-up in the arteries, which may block the flow of blood to the brain, causing a stroke.

Common concerns may accompany attempts to quit.

“I’ll gain weight if I quit smoking.”

Weight gain varies from person to person. The average person gains less than 10 pounds. Exercise and a low-fat diet can help. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals and pasta. Low-sugar candy may also help. Try to get enough sleep. Ask your doctor how to quit smoking while maintaining your weight.

“What do I do when I get the urge to smoke?”

When possible, stay away from places where others might be smoking. Ask others not to smoke around you. When you do feel the urge to smoke, distract yourself and stay busy. If you can make it three minutes, the urge probably will go away. You can also ask your doctor about prescription medications or nicotine replacement therapy, including over- the-counter patches and gum.

“Smoking relaxes me. I get too nervous and anxious if I don’t smoke.”

First, try to take it easy. It is best to warn those around you that you have quit smoking. Try going for a walk if you get tense. Exercise can help you relax.

“I blew it. What do I do now?”

Smoking cigarettes again does not mean that you have failed. You have already had some success. You got through a number of minutes, days or months without smoking. Don’t let relapses serve as excuses to start smoking again. You are an ex-smoker and can continue to be one.

“I’ve tried to quit smoking before. What makes this time different?”

You can choose to be a non-smoker and be successful. It is important enough to your health to make another attempt. Set a goal for yourself. Think about why you smoke and different ways to handle those reasons without smoking. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for information about local support groups. There are over 46.5 million ex-smokers in the United States. You can be one of them.

Tips to quit smoking:

  • Set a Quit Date. Mark your calendars at home and at work.
  • Tell your family, friends and co-workers that you are going to quit. Ask for their support.
  • Ask your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy or medication that can help control your urges to smoke.
  • Throw away all of your cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters and matches before your Quite Date.
  • Reward yourself for doing well. Buy something nice for yourself with the money you have saved on cigarettes.

Additional Resources:

American Cancer Society (800) 227-2345 www.cancer.org

American Lung Association (800) LUNG USA
(800) 586-4872 www.lungusa.org

National Cancer Institute (800) 4-CANCER www.cancer.gov

All publications are reviewed for scientific and medical accuracy by National Stroke Association’s Publications Committee.

How do you need to care for your heart?

IMG_0547Jill delivered her speech at a Wellness Seminar this week end.

Imagine what life would be like if each person you knew actually followed these directions? These are the items were “hear” all the time but don’t necessarily follow them.

Think about what it would be like NOT worrying about these factors?  Imagine if people quit smoking….or lost weight…or worked out regularly?   Can you picture what life would be like?

It is this easy!  Sure…things are going to just happen. That’s life.  But wouldn’t it make sense to minimize those fears?  Think about it!

If you have over weight friends in your life, people who need to exercise, etc, show them this blog and have them call me to talk about it.  People can change!