Researchers: 'The more you smoke, the more you stroke'

Men under the age of 50 who smoke are more likely to have a stroke—and that risk increases with how much an individual smokes, according to new research published April 19 in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.

“The key takeaway from our study on men younger than 50 is ‘the more you smoke, the more you stroke,’” said lead author Janina Markidan, a medical student at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues.

The researchers studied more than 600 men, from 15 to 49 years old, who had a stroke within the prior three years. They were classified as never, former or current smokers. The current smokers were divided into group based on how many cigarettes they smoked daily.

Men who smoked had an 88 percent greater chance of stroke. But men who smoked fewer than 11 cigarettes a day were only 46 percent more likely to have a stroke, compared to non-smokers, while those who smoked 40 or more cigarettes a day were 566 percent more likely.

“The goal is to get these young men to stop smoking, however if they can smoke fewer cigarettes it could help reduce their stroke risk,” Markidan and colleagues said. “We found a strong dose–response relationship between the number of cigarettes smoked daily and ischemic stroke among young men. Although complete smoking cessation is the goal, even smoking fewer cigarettes may reduce the risk of ischemic stroke in young men.”

The researchers did not record the simultaneous use of other tobacco products, which could potentially affect the results. Factors such as alcohol consumption, physical activity or were also not recorded.