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Smoking and Stroke

New data from Canada suggests that smokers’ risk having strokes or mini-strokes nearly a decade earlier than non-smokers. After they reviewed the records and clinical courses of patients referred to a stroke clinic because they were at high risk after suffering either a stroke or a mini-stroke (called transient ischemic attack or TIA), investigators found that smokers were at risk at a younger age, 58, on average, as opposed to 67 for non-smokers. Habitual smoking hardens and narrows arteries and makes blood stickier, the researchers noted, and added that these changes might explain the association seen between smoking and stroke. What’s more, they concluded that quitting has a big impact on stroke risk: within 18 months to two years of putting out that last smoke, the risk of stroke declines to that of a non-smoker. The researchers looked at stroke risks among 982 patients at an Ottawa stroke prevention clinic: 718 non-smokers and 264 smokers. The findings were presented October 3 at the Canadian Stroke Congress in Ottawa.

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